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Full text of "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow : a sketch of his life"

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 




M. '^-^A^<Ju,!lA>iw 



HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 

A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE 

BY CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 

TOGETHER WITH 

LONGFELLOW'S 

CHIEF AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL 

POEMS 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

MDCCCCVII 



COr Y RIGHT 1906 BY CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 

COPYRIGHT 1S75, 1S7S AND 1S79 BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 

COPYRIGHT 1903 AND 1906 BY ERNEST W. LONGFELLOW 

COPYRIGHT 18S5 BY TICKNOR & CO. 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



NOTE 

The proposed commemoration, under the auspices of the 
Cambridge Historical Society, on the 27th of February, 
1907, of the one hundredth anniversary of Longfellow's 
birthday, accounts for the character of this little volume. 
Besides the sketch of the life of the Poet, it contains most 
of those of his shorter poems which are referred to in the 
narrative, and also those which have a distinctly auto- 
biographical character, and those which relate to his 
special friends and to the places of his birth and abode. 
Thus, the little booh gives the story of the Poet's life 
briefly narrated in prose by a friend, and partially re- 
corded in verse by himself 



CONTENTS 

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW: 

A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE . 1 

AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL POEMS 

THE BATTLE OF LOVELL's POND (1820) . . 43 

PRELUDE TO VOICES OF THE NIGHT (1839) . . 44 

A PSALM OF LIFE (1838) 49 

THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS (1839) . . . 50 

THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH (1839) . . . 54 
TO THE RIVER CHARLES (1841) . . . .56 

THE BRIDGE (1845) 58 

THE ROPEWALK (1854) 61 

A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE (1846) . . . . 63 

TO A CHILD (1845) 66 

THE OPEN WINDOW (1848) .... 73 

IN THE CHURCHYARD AT CAMBRIDGE (1851) . . 74 

THE BURIAL OF THE POET (1879) ... 75 

THE TWO ANGELS (1855) 76 

RESIGNATION (1848) 78 

DEDICATION TO " SEASIDE AND FIRESIDE " (1849) 80 

MY LOST YOUTH (1855) 82 

[ vii ] 



CONTENTS 

THE FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY OF AGASSIZ (1857) 

HAWTHORNE (1864) 

THREE FRIENDS OF MINE (1874) . 
THE HERONS OF ELMWOOD (1876) 
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR (1859) 
TRAVELS BY THE FIRESIDE (1874) 

AMALFI (1875) 

CASTLES IN SPAIN (1877) . 
FROM MY ARM-CHAIR (1879) 

POSSIBILITIES (1882) 

THE CROSS OF SNOW (1879) . 
PALINGENESIS (1864) 
MORITURI SALUTAMUS (1874) 



. 86 

87 

. 89 

92 

. 94 

96 

. 97 

101 

. 104 

107 

, 107 

108 

. Ill 



NOTE 

The frontispiece portrait of Longfellow in 1842 is from the original 
painting by G. P. A. Healy in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The 
autograph, from a letter dated 1840, is in the Charles Folsom Collection, 
Boston Public Library. The portrait which faces page 4t% is from a 
photograph taken in 1879. The autograph is from a letter dated 
1880. 



HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 
A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE 



HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century 
New England was a good land in which to be 
born. It was still sparsely settled. There were 
no large towns. Boston, the largest, had scarcely 
twenty-five thousand inhabitants. The people 
were homogeneous, of unmixed English stock. 
They were mainly farmers or seamen. They 
were intelligent, industrious, and religious. 
There was great equality of condition, none 
were very rich, none very poor. Everybody 
was well off, for the poorest were free from 
the fear of oppression or starvation. The re- 
lations between man and man were natural 
and friendly. The general habits of life were 
simple and frugal; but even in the smaller 
towns there were often a few families which 
maintained a traditional comparatively high 
standard of refinement, of intellectual culture, 
and of moderate though genuine elegance. 

There was never a more truly democratic 
community, nor one in which the advantages 
[ 1 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

and opportunities of a society based upon 
democratic principles were more fully and 
freely enjoyed. Its interests were, indeed, 
comparatively narrow, for it had small share 
in the great life of the world, it had little con- 
sciousness of relation to the historic past even 
of its own race, and it seemed to have in- 
herited few of its burdens. It had separated 
itself from the Old World, and was possessed 
with the spirit of its own independence. It 
was full of self-confidence, and looked forward 
into the future with an unbounded hope, which 
appeared even to the wisest not an illusion, but 
to rest on a solid foundation of reason. Here 
men held possession of a field in which to show 
what they could do unhampered by hereditary 
prescriptions and privileges, and here, in New 
England especially, the new order of society, 
based on justice and liberty, not only gave 
promise of fairer results than had ever before 
been achieved, but already exhibited actual 
results in blessings which seemed but a fore- 
taste of those which might be legitimately 
anticipated. It is not strange that the whole 
temper of the community became optimistic 
[ 2 1 



LONGFELLOW 

and kindly; that the severities of the Calvin- 
istic creed of earlier days were relaxed; and 
that both this world and the next took on a 
Utopian aspect. 

The perils of prosperity, of unlimited demo- 
cracy, of unchecked immigration, were not fore- 
seen; they were gradually to manifest them- 
selves. The generation which grew up before 
1830 had neither the experience nor the dread 
of them. 

This condition of society in New England 
deserves to be set forth in much greater detail, 
not only as an exceptional, instructive, and 
interesting passage in the history of mankind, 
but also as accounting in large measure for 
the spirit and form of the works of the poets 
and men of letters who gave distinction to the 
country in the middle of the century. It is 
worth noting that all of them were born within 
its first twenty years, and grew to manhood 
before the problems which now perplex us had 
begun to present themselves with the threaten- 
ings of the Sphinx. 1 

1 The list with its dates is curiously significant: Emerson, bom 
1803; Hawthorne, 1804 ; Longfellow and Whittier, 1807 ; Holmes, 

[ 3 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

One of the pleasantest towns in New Eng- 
land at this time was Portland, now the chief 
seaport of the State of Maine. It is an old town 
according to the reckoning of the United States, 
having been first settled in 1632; it is old 
enough to have traditions, and to have known 
many generations of seafaring men, and in 
former days, when its commerce was of more 
importance than it is now, its people gained 
some sense, such as those of inland towns 
seldom acquire, of the largeness of the world, 
of the interest and romance of foreign lands, 
and of the mystery and perils of the sea. Here 
on the 27th of February, 1807, Henry Wads- 
worth Longfellow was born. His parents were 
of English stock, long settled in America. His 
father was a lawyer, a man of pure, upright 
character, a good heart, and an old-time 
courtesy. He became one of the foremost 
men in his community, honored for his public 
spirit, sound judgment, integrity, and ability. 

1809 ; Lowell, 1819. The general spirit and optimistic disposition of 
the land had already found expression in Irving, born 1783, and in 
Channing (1780), but the original characteristic New England quality, 
the distinctive temper of a cultivated democracy, waited for its full 
expression for the men of the succeeding generation. 

[ 4 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

"In his family," wrote his youngest son, "he 
was at once kind and strict, bringing up his 
children in habits of respect and obedience, 
of unselfishness, the dread of debt, and the 
faithful performance of duty." 1 The boy's 
mother must have been a woman of uncom- 
mon sweetness and charm. Her letters, of 
which a few have been preserved, mainly to 
her son, are evidences of her tenderness, re- 
finement, and culture. She was a lover of 
nature, and of the poets; she had a sincere 
and cheerful piety; she was a kind neighbor 
and a devoted mother. Her household of eight 
children, four brothers and four sisters, was a 
happy one. Henry was the second child. 

To those who have not had the blessing of 
knowing it, it may be difficult to give the true 
impression of the pleasantness and wholesome- 
ness of an old-time New England home. There 
has never elsewhere been anything exactly like 
it. The natural relations shaping the society of 
which it was an element, the absence of arti- 

1 I take this sentence from the excellent Life of the poet by his 
brother, the late Rev. Samuel Longfellow. My obligations to this 
authoritative biography are constant throughout the following sketch. 

[ 5 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

ficial distinctions, the universal sense of inde- 
pendence and ease, the common kindliness and 
good-nature which resulted from the general 
well-being, all affected the intimate spirit of 
the household. Domestic virtues flourish in 
such an atmosphere. The union of simplicity 
in modes of living and thinking with respect 
and desire for culture showed itself in a love 
of reading, by which the narrow outlook of 
a somewhat primitive and provincial view of 
the world was modified and enlarged. It was 
through books that the household mainly felt 
its connection with the wide life of mankind, 
with the poetic and historic past. The books 
were indeed comparatively few, but they were 
for the most part those of which the worth 
had been tested by the approval of many gen- 
erations. Music, too, of a simple kind was one 
of the common domestic pleasures. Manners 
were carefully regarded ; and though there was 
little of the finer social art, there was often 
much good talk to be heard around the hospi- 
table table, or by the winter-evening fireside. 
In fact, the old New England home at its best 
was a happy place, with a special, if slender, 
[ • ] 



LONGFELLOW 

charm and grace of its own. There was, in- 
deed, a lack of richness in the intellectual no 
less than in the material life, and seldom a 
sufficient variety of condition, or difficulty of 
circumstance, or collision of interests to de- 
velop the finer resources of the mind. The 
land had not been settled long enough to pos- 
sess a soil — the product of the lives of count- 
less, generations — of depth enough to afford 
nourishment to the deepest reaching roots of 
the imagination and intelligence. 

Such a home as I have described was that of 
the Longfellows, and its influence was strong 
for good on a sensitive nature like that of the 
boy Henry. He was a bright, pleasant boy, 
active, industrious, ardent, and according to 
his mother's report "remarkably solicitous 
always to do right." When he was five years 
old he was sent to a day-school, close by his 
home, and a certificate from his master has 
been preserved, given him when he was not 
much over six, which shows how early the little 
boy began to be what he always remained: 
"Master Henry Longfellow is one of the best 
boys we have in school. He spells and reads 
[ 7 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

very well. He also can add and multiply num- 
bers. His conduct last quarter was very correct 
and amiable. June 30, 1813." 

His taste for reading was early manifest. He 
took delight in "Don Quixote" and in Ossian, 
but, as he himself has recorded, the first book 
which "fascinated his imagination, and ex- 
cited and satisfied the desires of his mind," 
was the "Sketch-Book" of Washington Irving. 
"I was a schoolboy when it was published" 
[the first number appeared in 1819], "and read 
each succeeding number with ever increasing 
wonder and delight." He had himself already 
begun writing, and when he was thirteen years 
old some verses of his were printed in the 
local newspaper. They were of no special 
promise, but they were not destitute of merit 
in versification, and showed that the boy had 
been reading Campbell and Scott. With these 
verses his literary life began. 

In 1822 he was sent to Bowdoin College 
at Brunswick, then, as now, the chief college 
in Maine, about thirty miles from Portland. 
He entered it as a Sophomore, in a class of 
which Hawthorne was a member. His college 
[ 8 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

years were well spent; it was a period of rapid 
maturing both of character and of powers. 
Longfellow, as he had been at school, so here 
was "one of the best boys." He had a charm- 
ing social disposition, and was a general fa- 
vorite; but, while he enjoyed the companion- 
ship of his fellows, he had principles strong 
enough to resist the temptations of college 
life. He was a faithful and industrious student; 
he became a wide reader; and he wrote much 
prose and verse, some of which found accept- 
ance in the " United States Literary Gazette," 
published in Boston, to which he became, 
during his last year in college, a frequent con- 
tributor. The poems are mostly trial pieces. 
They show a singularly sweet and pure nature ; 
but the poet had not yet found his true voice, 
and what he wrote was often in the mood and 
with the tone of elder poets, especially of 
Bryant, whose grave and moral verse, the 
expression of his New England temperament, 
exercised a strong and acknowledged influence 
upon his younger contemporary. The best 
poetic fruit of his college years was not ga- 
thered till fifty years later, when, on the anni- 
[ 9 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

versary of the graduation of his Class, Long- 
fellow read at Bowdoin his beautiful and 
characteristic poem entitled Morituri Saluta- 
mus, in which, beginning with tender recol- 
lections of the days of youth, he went on with 
a profoundly sweet and touching survey of 
life, and closed with a noble assertion of the 
significance and opportunities of old age. 

Before he left college he had come to a 
clear recognition of his true vocation in life. 
"The fact is," he wrote to his father, "the 
fact is, I most eagerly aspire after future 
eminence in literature. . . . Nature has given 
me a very strong predilection for literary pur- 
suits." And in this he was not making the 
mistake which young men so often make, of 
supposing their powers to justify their pre- 
dilection. He had a right to confidence in his 
gifts, and Fortune smiled upon him with sur- 
prising graciousness. At the very moment of 
his graduation, in 1825, the Board of Trus- 
tees of the college determined to establish a 
Professorship of Modern Languages. The re- 
sources of the college were narrow, and the 
salary which it was proposed to attach to the 
[ 10 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

professorship was too small to allow the hope 
that a scholar of established repute could be 
induced to take the chair. " The eyes of the 
trustees," says his brother, "turned upon 
the young graduate, whose literary tastes and 
attainments had attracted their attention and 
gained him reputation." His character, no 
less than his attainments, inspired confidence 
in his ability, after due preparation, to fill 
such a position with credit, and an informal 
proposal was made to him that he should visit 
Europe for a period of preparatory study, with 
the understanding that on his return he should 
be appointed to the professorship. There could 
be no stronger evidence of the impression 
which, though not yet nineteen years old, he 
had already made as a youth, not merely of 
uncommon promise, but of still more uncom- 
mon desert. 

The proposal was accepted with delight. 
Nothing could have better favored his desires 
and his projects. The opportunity of study in 
Europe was an unhoped-for felicity, and he 
embraced it with a serious resolve to get from 
it the best that it could give. He left home 
[ n ] 



LONGFELLOW 

in May, 1826, and he remained abroad till 
July, 1829. 

Europe was then much more remote from 
America than it is to-day. It was a month or 
more distant, and it was a much fresher land 
then than now to a young American. Its 
paths had not yet been made dusty by Ameri- 
can feet. In outward aspect, in social order, 
in standards of life, in modes of thought, the 
Old and the New World were far more dis- 
tinct than they have since become. The great 
advantage which an American still derives 
from a visit to Europe, beside the enlarging 
of his experience of life, is the quickening of 
his imagination by the awakening of the sense 
of his relation to the long historic life of his 
race. Longfellow's youth and poetic tempera- 
ment, as well as the literary culture which he 
had already acquired, made him peculiarly 
sensible to the strong and novel influence of a 
residence in foreign lands. His first months 
abroad were spent in France, and thence he 
went in succession to Spain, Italy, and Ger- 
many, ending his period of absence with a 
brief stay in England. Everywhere on the Con- 
[ 12 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

tinent he devoted himself to acquiring the 
languages of the different countries which he 
visited, and to studying their literature. He 
had an exceptional facility in learning a new 
language, and his industry was great. He 
mastered three of the four great foreign lan- 
guages so thoroughly as to speak them with 
facility and correctness, and to write them 
with comparative ease, and he returned to 
America fitted to discharge competently the 
duties of the professorship to which he had 
been called. But Europe had done much more 
for him than merely make him an accom- 
plished scholar. It had enlarged his view of 
life, fertilized his mind, and given him a social 
cultivation which he could not have gained at 
home. These three years abroad did much 
to give color to his future. 

To come back from the exciting interests 
and delights of Paris, Madrid, and Rome, 
and from the deep sources of intellectual life 
at a German university, to the monotonous 
routine of a teacher's existence within the 
narrow limits of a small country college, was 
a somewhat sharp test of character. Long- 
[ 13 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

fellow stood it well, for his rare gifts and ac- 
complishments rested upon a solid basis of 
manliness and common sense, and his long 
residence abroad had not weakened his love 
of home. He entered on his new duties with 
zest, and with a high estimate of the respon- 
sibilities and opportunities of his profession as 
teacher. In a letter written in 1830, — he was 
then twenty-three years old, — he describes the 
course of his life: "I rise at six in the morn- 
ing, and hear a French recitation immediately. 
At seven I breakfast and am then master of 
my time till eleven, when I hear a Spanish 
lesson. After that I take a lunch, and at 
twelve I go into the library " [he was the act- 
ing librarian of the college], "where I remain 
till one. I am then at leisure for the after- 
noon till five, when I have a French recitation. 
At six I take coffee, then walk and visit friends 
till nine; study till twelve, and sleep till six, 
when I begin the same round again. Such is 
the daily routine of my life. The intervals of 
college duty I fill up with my own studies. 
Last term I was publishing text-books for the 
use of my pupils, in whom I take a deep in- 
[ 14 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

terest. This term I am writing a course of 
lectures on French, Spanish, and Italian litera- 
tures. ... I am delighted more and more with 
the profession I have embraced. . . . Since my 
return I have written one piece of poetry, but 
have not published a line. ... If I ever pub- 
lish a volume it will be many years first." 

It was, indeed, nearly ten years before he 
published his first slender volume of collected 
poems. But these ten years were well filled 
with literary work, mainly the result of his 
travel and his professional studies. He wrote 
numerous articles upon topics of mediaeval 
and modern literature; he made many poeti- 
cal translations; he published in 1833 a series 
of sketches of tales and literary essays under 
the title of " Outre Mer," and six years later, 
after a second visit to Europe, appeared 
"Hyperion," in which this later experience of 
travel was presented in a more consecutive 
form than that of his earlier book, and with 
a deeper interest from the thread of romance 
connecting its various episodes, as well as 
from its riper expression of more personal and 
intimate experience. 

[ 15 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

All this work has many excellent qualities; 
it is the writing of a cultivated man of letters, 
possessed of poetic sensibility, of a somewhat 
romantic vein of sentiment, and of a sweet 
nature, refined, gentle, and of high aims. It 
is essentially the work of a man of letters, 
who sees life not directly, but rather as it 
comes reflected to him through books and 
colored by literary associations. "Outre Mer" 
is a lineal descendant of the " Sketch-Book; " 
"Hyperion" traces back to Jean Paul. The 
books have not the charm of primitive nature, 
but they are full of the pleasantness of the 
garden, with its abundance of sweet-scented 
herbs and exotic flowers. 

It was not strange that Longfellow was slow 
in discovering his native vein of poetry and 
in trusting to it. The intellectual conditions 
of America did not give self-confidence to her 
authors, and in his case the opening to him, 
at the most sensitive period of youth, of the 
treasures of the Continental literatures, trea- 
sures much less familiar eighty years ago than 
now, the excitement of what was practically 
literary discovery, and the attractiveness of the 
[ 16 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

form no less than of the substance of this 
newly revealed art, — all tended at first to 
choke the natural current of his poetic vein, 
and to substitute for the direct expression of 
himself the reproduction by transfusion or 
translation of what was so delightful to him. 
During these years, from 1827 to 1839, his 
life had had a varied course. In 1831 he had 
been married with every promise of happiness 
to Miss Potter of Portland. In 1834, having 
established his reputation as an accomplished 
scholar and teacher, he was invited to succeed 
Mr. Ticknor, as Professor of Belles-Lettres 
at Harvard College. He accepted with satis- 
faction the larger opportunities for study and 
the wider social relations which a position 
at the oldest and best equipped of American 
colleges afforded; but before entering upon 
his new duties, he went again to Europe for 
further study, especially of the northern lan- 
guages and literature. He was accompanied 
by his wife, but they had been abroad hardly 
more than six months before her health failed, 
and she died at Rotterdam, in December, 
1835. Longfellow returned home in the 
[ 17 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

autumn of 1836, and in December took up his 
residence in Cambridge, where his home was 
thenceforth to be till the end of life, a period of 
more than forty-five years. 

Cambridge in 1836 was a pleasant little 
town, some of the characteristics of which 
Mr. Lowell has preserved in his picturesque 
essay, "Cambridge Thirty Years Ago." For 
so small a town it contained an unusual num- 
ber of people of considerable intellectual and 
more or less social culture whom the college 
brought together upon easy terms. It was a 
very simple society, conservative in its general 
spirit, but liberalized by its neighborhood to 
Boston, which had long possessed an intellect- 
ual leadership among the cities of America, and 
which, as it grew in numbers and in wealth, did 
not lose its traditional hospitality to thought. 
The moment was one of moral and mental 
ferment. The anti-slavery campaign had be- 
gun in earnest, and the so-called "transcen- 
dental" movement, to which Emerson was be- 
ginning to give its best direction, was already, 
in spite of many extravagances and absurdi- 
ties, exercising a potent influence of intellectual 
[ 18 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

emancipation. Longfellow at once found him- 
self at home in these wider conditions than 
Bowdoin had afforded. He sympathized with 
the prevailing liberal temper of his own gen- 
eration, but he took no leading part in the de- 
bates of the times. His disposition had nothing 
controversial in it. His life soon settled into a 
pleasant regularity. His college duties were 
arduous and often irksome, but they left him 
leisure for his favorite studies, and for the en- 
joyment of friendly intercourse. 

It was at this time that my own acquaintance 
with Mr. Longfellow began. He was then 
twenty-nine years old, and I was a boy some- 
what more than twenty years younger. But 
from the first he was a most kind and pleasant 
friend to me. He was a frequent and familiar 
visitor at my father's house, and the younger 
members of the family were as glad as their 
elders to see him. He entered into the interests 
of our lives and added to their pleasures. I 
should not speak of this were it not for the il- 
lustration it affords of his nature, and of the 
affection in which he was held by all, old or 
young, with whom he was brought into famil- 
[ 19 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

iar relation. As life went on his kindness never 
changed, and now, almost twenty-five years 
after his death, I look back on the friendship 
which he gave to me for forty-five years as 
one of their great blessings. It still is one of 
the lights of life. I wish I could give to others 
the true image of him which remains in my 
heart. It may be learned from his own sweet- 
est verse, for no poet ever wrote with more 
unconscious and complete sincerity of self- 
expression. 

No profession is at once more depressing 
and more stimulating than that of the teacher 
of youth just entering on manhood. The more 
keenly he sympathizes with them and desires 
to aid them, the more keenly he feels how far 
the best that he can do for them falls short of 
their needs and of his own ideal of service. He 
would fain save them from errors of which by 
experience he knows the harm, would fain not 
only supply them with learning, but inspire 
them with a love of it by instructing them in 
its right use for the building of character, as 
well as for the enlargement of those mental 
resources which contribute to the permanent 
[ 20 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

enjoyment and utility of life. Longfellow's ex- 
ample wrought upon his pupils no less than 
his words. He stood before them as the pat- 
tern of an accomplished man of letters, who 
exhibited in his life the worth of his own 
instructions. 

His college duties, regular and constant as 
they were, did not prevent him from carrying 
on literary work of his own. In the summer 
of 1839, as I have already mentioned, "Hy- 
perion," begun a year before, was completed 
and published. It was received with favor; it 
appealed to the romantic sentiment of youth, 
and it gratified the taste, natural to American 
readers, for the varied resources and the poetic 
suggestion of the Old World. 

"Hyperion" marks the close of the first stage 
of Longfellow's intellectual life, the stage of 
youthful impressibility and experiment, of 
uncertainty of aim, of the control of foreign 
influence on the direction of his powers. The 
foreign materials of his culture had now been 
assimilated so as to become vital elements of 
his genius, and the little volume of poems 
published in the autumn of 1839 under the 
[ 21 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

title of "Voices of the Night" marks the 
beginning of the stage in which that genius 
was to find its full and free expression. The 
Prelude with which the volume opens gives 
evidence that the poet himself was conscious 
of the change. He bids farewell to the visions 
of childhood; no longer what is external shall 
be his theme, but, adopting the noble injunc- 
tion of Sidney's Muse, he says to himself, 
"Look then into thy heart and write," and 
thenceforth he spoke to the hearts of men. It 
is not surprising that he had been so long 
in acquiring trust in his own powers. His 
modesty, his admiration for the work of con- 
temporary poets in Europe, — Goethe, Man- 
zoni, Victor Hugo, — had made him hesitate. 
Moreover, in the life of New England there 
was little to quicken the poetic imagination; 
its experience was of homespun quality, the 
element of passion was scanty in the tempera- 
ment of its people, there was no great oppor- 
tunity in their relations and habits for marked 
variety of sentiment and emotion. Our best 
poetry had been patterned on foreign models. 
Such fresh and original voices as had tried to 
[ 22 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

make themselves heard, had had for the most 
part but a faint tone, and had been listened 
to without popular approval. The prevailing 
spirit was of critical distrust of native powers, 
a spirit unfavorable for the discovery of a poet 
either by himself or by others. 

But in "Voices of the Night" were poems 
which appealed at once to the consciousness 
of the public as expressions of its own hitherto 
unexpressed interior moods, and dimly recog- 
nized ideals. The " Psalm of Life," a voice, 
as the poet called it, from his inmost heart, 
proved to be the voice of many hearts. It be- 
came instantly popular. Its moral lesson, con- 
veyed in simple but musical verse, was accepted 
by its readers as the teaching of their own ex- 
perience which they had failed to formulate 
for themselves. It was a help and encourage- 
ment to depressed souls, a stimulus to the am- 
bitious and the hopeful. The world cares more 
for morality than for poetry, but it likes to 
have its moral sentiment expressed in poetic 
form. Perhaps no verses of the century have 
had wider acceptance than these. But it was 
not only their moral tone which secured for 
[ 23 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

this and other poems in the volume an imme- 
diate cordial reception, but also their beauty 
of form. His long preparatory studies had 
made Longfellow such a master of versifica- 
tion as America had not before known, and 
his art gave a rare charm to his words. 

From this time forth Longfellow wrote lit- 
tle prose for publication, his only subsequent 
prose work being the brief tale of " Kavanagh," 
a pretty, semi-romantic, semi-realistic story, 
brightened by touches of humor, and suffused 
with delicate sentiment. It embodied many 
fancies and reflections which had long been 
gathered in his note-books or loosely floating 
in his brain, but it has no great significance in 
the record of his intellectual life. 

Two years after the publication of the 
"Voices of the Night," he gathered into an- 
other volume the pieces which he had written 
in the interval, some of which, such as "The 
Wreck of the Hesperus" and "The Village 
Blacksmith," became at once and have con- 
tinued to be favorites of the great public. 

In 1842 the regular current of his life was 
interrupted by a third visit to Europe, under- 
[ 24 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

taken for the benefit of his health. The sum- 
mer was spent at Marienberg, near Boppard 
on the Rhine. While here he made acquaint- 
ance, which ripened into a cordial and per- 
manent friendship, with Ferdinand Freili- 
grath, then one of the most distinguished of 
the younger German poets. In October, on 
his way home, he went to London, where he 
spent the last weeks of his stay abroad with 
Dickens, -always a most genial and sympa- 
thetic host. Dickens was just bringing out 
his "American Notes," and Longfellow wrote 
to Sumner of it, "You will read it with delight 
and, for the most part, approbation. He has 
a grand chapter on Slavery." 

The topic was perilous for a man of letters; 
the debate upon it had become too hot. Yet 
Longfellow, on his homeward voyage, wrote 
a number of poems on Slavery, which he pub- 
lished in a pamphlet soon after his return. 
They brought upon him harsh denunciation. 
He was charged with being an Abolitionist, 
and his popularity as a poet suffered diminu- 
tion at the North as well as in the slavehold- 
ing community. By these poems Longfellow 
[ 25 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

had ranged himself in line with his intimate 
friend, Charles Sumner, then at the beginning 
of his great anti-slavery career, and he readily 
accepted such measure of obloquy and of un- 
popularity as the taking of this position might 
bring to him. 

In 1843, the happiness of his life was re- 
newed and confirmed by his marriage to Miss 
Frances Appleton, a woman worthy to be a 
poet's wife. She had great beauty, and a pre- 
sence of dignity and distinction, the true image 
of a beautiful nature. He had met her first in 
Switzerland, six years before, when she was a 
girl of nineteen, and something of her as she 
then was, is embodied in the Mary Ashburton 
of "Hyperion." She brought him abundant 
means as well as happiness. 

Craigie House in Cambridge, a fine old colo- 
nial mansion, which had been Washington's 
headquarters for some months after he took 
command of the Continental Army in 1775, 
and in which Longfellow, almost ever since 
his first coming to Cambridge had had his 
abode, now became their permanent home. 
The traditions, the associations, the surround- 
[ 26 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

ings of the house well befitted its aspect, while 
the view upon which it looked toward the 
southwest across open fields to the Charles, 
and beyond the river and its marshes to the 
pleasant hills of Brighton and Brookline, af- 
forded it the setting of an appropriate land- 
scape. Thus fortunate in all externals, the 
home within was exceptionally happy. The 
joys of domestic life, the pleasures of social 
life, found their pattern and example here. 

The rare social gifts with which Nature had 
endowed him, cultivated by his experience in 
Europe, made Longfellow a delightful host, 
or guest, or companion. He possessed the first 
requisite of all fine social art, — a real desire 
to give pleasure; he was quite free from van- 
ity, and while he was master of large resources 
in conversation, he did not use them for dis- 
play, but with the light touch and the kindly 
humor which give ease and grace to talk. He 
never uttered a bitter or cynical word. No 
one enjoyed more than he the beauty and ele- 
gance which contribute, nay, which are es- 
sential, to the charm of society at its best, and 
without extravagance or ostentation he se- 
[ 27 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

cured them so far as possible in his own sur- 
roundings. Like the scholar in the Prelude to 
the "Tales of a Wayside Inn," he was 

"A man of such a genial mood 
The heart of all things he embraced, 
And yet of such fastidious taste, 
He never found the best too good." 

It was, indeed, the best company that 
Longfellow gathered round the hospitable 
Craigie House table, and pleasanter dinners 
or suppers were never given than those over 
which, for many years, Mrs. Longfellow 
presided with sweet, gracious dignity, and at 
which the familiar guests were not unworthy 
of their hosts. Among the most familiar were 
Lowell, the near neighbor and constant friend; 
Tom Appleton, the brother of Mrs. Longfel- 
low, the wit, the humorist, possessed, as he 
with but partial truth complained, of the 
temperament of genius without the genius; 
Agassiz, with his fine amplitude of person, 
intelligence, and sympathy; Felton, the most 
genial and jovial of professors of Greek; 
George W. Greene of Rhode Island, a friend 
from the old days of Longfellow's first visit 
[ 28 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

to Rome in 1827 ; while rarer but always wel- 
come guests were Emerson, Hawthorne, Sum- 
ner, Fields, Howells, and now and then Child 
and George William Curtis, two of the plea- 
santest and most lovable of men. Strangers 
of distinction, foreign or native born, found 
place at a table which culture and good-breed- 
ing made cosmopolitan. Longfellow kept his 
friendships in excellent repair; even those 
which might seem to an outsider to cost more 
than they were worth. He was true to what 
had been ; remembrance maintained life in the 
ashes of the old affection, and he never made 
his own fame or his many occupations an excuse 
for disregarding the claims of a dull acquaint- 
ance, or of one fallen in the world. 

In the peaceful warmth and light of domes- 
tic joys and social pleasures, the genius 
of the poet found its true atmosphere. His 
voice took on a fuller tone, the range of his 
expression became wider and its mode more 
confident, and when in 1847 he published 
"Evangeline," a longer and more elaborate 
composition than he had hitherto attempted, 
his reputation was largely enhanced, and his 
[ 29 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

position as the most popular poet of his gener- 
ation was assured. The picturesque charm, 
the tender sentiment, the imaginative sympa- 
thy, the purity of tone of this sweetest of idyllic 
poems, are known to all readers of English 
poetry. 

Happy at home, conscious of the ripening 
of his own powers, in the enjoyment of well- 
deserved fame, the course of Longfellow's 
life ran smoothly on. His college duties gave 
a regular routine to his days, but left him time 
for his poetic pursuits, and for those occu- 
pations and interests to which his disposition 
most strongly inclined, and in which the fine 
qualities of his nature were most attractively 
displayed. He had his share in the common 
experience of trials and sorrows. The death 
of one of his little children touched his heart 
deeply; but now as in the later time of abid- 
ing sorrow, as Lowell truly said, — 

"the more 
Fate tried his bastions, she but forced a door 
Leading to sweeter manhood and more sound." 

His journal, printed in the "Life" by his 
brother, contains the record of the events of 
[ 30 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

these fortunate years, while the poems which 
appeared in 1849 under the title of "The 
Seaside and the Fireside" reveal the course of 
his spiritual experience. In the beautiful 
verses of "Dedication," with which this little 
volume begins, he addressed the multitude 
of his known and unknown readers with such 
frank and cordial recognition of his relation 
to them as to make them more than ever his 
friends, and in the noble poem of "The Build- 
ing of the Ship," which immediately follows 
the "Dedication," he rendered a great public 
service, in appealing to the national sentiment 
of his people with such an inspiring passion 
of patriotic fervor as quickened faith and 
strengthened confidence in the already threat- 
ened union of the States. 

No living poet had now so wide a circle of 
readers, and his readers could not but enter- 
tain for him a sentiment more personal and 
affectionate than that which any other poet 
awakened. It was not by depth or novelty 
of thought that he interested them, nor did he 
move them by passionate intensity of emotion, 
or by profound spiritual insight, or by power 
[ 31 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

of dramatic representation and interpretation 
of life. He set himself neither to propound 
nor to solve the enigmas of existence. No, the 
briefer poems by which he won and held the 
hearts of his readers were the expression of 
simple feeling, of natural emotion, not of ex- 
ceptional spiritual experience, but of such as is 
common to men of good intent. In exquisitely 
modulated verse he continued to give form to 
their vague ideals, and utterance to their 
stammering aspirations. In revealing his own 
pure and sincere nature, he helped others to 
recognize their own better selves. The strength 
and simplicity of his moral sentiment made his 
poems the more attractive and helpful to the 
mass of men, who care, as I have said, rather 
for the ethical significance than for the art of 
poetry; but the beauty of his verse enforced 
its teaching, and the melody of its form was 
consonant with the sweetness of its spirit. In 
the series of delightful stories which year after 
year he told in the successive parts of "The 
Wayside Inn," there were few which did not 
have for motive some wise lesson of life, some 
doctrine of charity, gentleness, and faith. The 
[ 32 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

spirit of humanity, of large hope, of cheerful 
confidence in good, — this spirit into which he 
was born, and of which his own nature was 
one of the fairest outcomes, — this spirit of the 
New England of the early nineteenth century, 
— is embodied in his verse. 

And the charm which his verse exercised 
over its readers, especially over its American 
readers, continued to be enhanced by the 
variety and abundance of its sources. From 
Sicily to Norway, from the castles of Spain to 
the vineyards of France, from the strongholds 
of the Rhine to the convents of Italy, the poet 
was everywhere at home, not as a passing 
guest, but as an intimate familiar with the 
landscape, the life, and the legends of the land. 
He begins one of his poems, — 

"Sweet the memory is to me 
Of a land beyond the sea," 

and he made his readers sharers in the sweet- 
ness. In thus enlarging the field of vision for 
his readers, in stimulating their historic imagi- 
nation, and in quickening their sympathies 
with their fellows of other lands, Longfellow 
was unrivalled. His poems were a large con- 
[ 33 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

tribution to that world-literature, on which 
Goethe set such store as the means of bring- 
ing the nations into closer relations with each 
other, by the increase of their mutual under- 
standing and of their common sentiments. 

Gratefully as the worth and beauty of his 
work were generally recognized, Longfellow 
did not escape from the penalties of success. 
He had critics who, blinding themselves to the 
essentially characteristic individuality of his 
poetry, denied to him the possession of gen- 
uine original powers, and sought to discover 
defects alike in the substance and in the form 
of his verse. His modest and sensitive nature 
was hurt by their attacks, but his serenity 
was little disturbed. The verdict of the more 
competent judges, no less than that of the 
uncritical public, went against them, and by 
degrees the voices of depreciation and de- 
traction became faint and silent. 

"The Golden Legend," "The Song of 
Hiawatha," "The Courtship of Miles Stand- 
ish," were written and published between 1850 
and 1860, and the peaceful, genial, hospitable 
life ran on in its sunny and prosperous course, 
[ 34 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

for the greater part of each year at Craigie 
House, and during the summer at Newport or 
Nahant. In 1854 Longfellow resigned his 
professorship, but happy domestic cares, the 
frequent company of friends, many social en- 
gagements, the ever fresh companionship of 
books, the writing of poetry, filled the days with 
various interests and abundant occupation. 

On a day in June, 1861, he wrote in his 
Journal: "A delicious summer-day. Stroll 
in the sunshine, thanking God." The words 
are, as it were, the summary of his happy life, 
and mark its close. On the ninth of July 
Mrs. Longfellow was in the library with her 
two little girls, engaged in amusing them by 
sealing up small packages of their curls which 
she had just cut off. The windows were open, 
and the summer air was blowing through the 
room. A drop of the sealing-wax fell on her 
light muslin dress and set it on fire. To save 
her children she fled from them to the hall. 
Her husband sped from his study to her help. 
He succeeded in extinguishing the flames but 
he was severely burned, and for her there was 
no recovery. The next morning she died. 
[ 35 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

Calmly and resolutely Longfellow took up 
the burden of life. He bore his grief with 
manliness and silence. The admirable quali- 
ties of his nature were never more apparent. 
By degrees he resumed so far as was possible 
his old habits of life, but with an ennobled 
bearing, and unaffected serenity. In Febru- 
ary, 1862, he writes in his journal: "The days 
pass in dull monotony, and having nothing 
to record I record nothing. A newspaper, a 
novel, a vain attempt at more serious study, 
and weariness — that is all." But a week later 
comes the entry "Translated the beautiful 
Canto XXV of the Paradiso" and there could 
not have been a more appropriate or more 
healing task. For the next five years the trans- 
lation of the "Divine Comedy" was to be his 
chief occupation, and the main restorative of 
health. In May, 1867, the work was finished, 
and on its publication it at once took its place, 
a place which it is likely to hold, as the most 
faithful and scholarly of the metrical verses of 
the poem. 

As the years went on Longfellow became to 
all outward seeming cheerful as of old, and 
[ 36 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

with perfect simplicity took his customary 
delightful part in the society of his friends. 
Again the life at Craigie House flowed on 
in a peaceful current, but it was no longer a 
summer stream. The light upon it was that 
of the autumnal sun. Longfellow's fame was 
steadily widening, and brought with it an 
ever increasing burden of demands made upon 
his time and strength by the visits or the let- 
ters of a numberless host of strangers. The 
penalty had its humorous side, but it was none 
the less a penalty, exacted of the poet by the 
great democracy of America and England 
whose hearts he had touched, and who as- 
sumed that the notoriety of his works justified 
the treatment of their author as a public char- 
acter. His courtesy and kindness were unfail- 
ing, and his imaginative sympathy often led 
him to make sacrifice of his time and strength 
for the sake of giving pleasure to others. I 
have told the story before, but it is worth re- 
peating as an illustration of his invincible con- 
siderateness for the feelings of men whom the 
world is apt to rebuff, how one day when I 
ventured to remonstrate with him for permit- 
[ 37 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

ting the devastation of his hours by one of the 
most pertinacious and undeserving of habitual 
visitors, he listened with a humorous smile, and 
then rebuked me by saying, "Why, Charles, 
who will be kind to him if I am not?" 

In 1868, in company with his daughters 
and other friends, he once more, after an in- 
terval of twenty-six years, visited Europe. He 
was everywhere received with the heartiest 
welcome, and as a guest of the highest distinc- 
tion. The universities of Cambridge and of 
Oxford each gave to him an honorary degree; 
the Queen summoned him to Windsor; he 
spent "two happy days with Tennyson;" he 
made a short visit to Dickens at Gadshill. 
Expressions of regard and affection flowed in 
upon him from high and low, and not only in 
England, but on the Continent as well, he met 
with constant evidence of honor and regard. 
He returned to America in the autumn of 1869, 
and speedily resumed the old habits of life at 
home. "It is pleasant to get back to it," he 
wrote, "and yet sad." 

He had enjoyed the experience of fame, but 
adulation and the knowledge of the admira- 
[ 38 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

tion in which he was held abroad as well as at 
home, had not the least effect to quicken van- 
ity or self-consciousness. The essential quali- 
ties of his nature preserved him from all evil 
consequences of flattery. He remained un- 
touched by them, as simple in manner as in 
heart, intrinsically modest and sound-minded. 
He was "a man not to be spoiled by prosperity." 

The approach of old age did not chill Long- 
fellow's heart or diminish his poetic impulse 
and skill. The poems in the little volume of 
"Ultima Thule," published in 1880, bore wit- 
ness that the prayer of the motto from Horace 
on the title-page had been granted, — the 
prayer for an old age with unimpaired mind, 
not without honor nor lacking song. 

Attended by all that should accompany old 
age, life drew to its close. In the autumn of 
1881 he had an attack of illness, which left 
him in a condition of nervous prostration and 
suffering. Neither pain nor sleeplessness could 
overcome his patience ; the serenity of his soul 
was unclouded, but his desire for death was 
strong. In March, 1882, a chill caught in an 
afternoon walk on his veranda brought on a 
[ 39 ] 



LONGFELLOW 

sharp attack of illness, — his strength failed 
rapidly, and after five days, on Friday, the 24th 
of March, he died. Never had a poet been so 
widely loved, never was the death of a poet 
so widely mourned. 

At the burial, Mr. Emerson, whose own 
death was to follow in less than five weeks, 
and whose powers of memory were already 
shattered, standing near the grave, said to his 
companion, "I cannot recall the name of our 
friend, but he was a good man." Longfellow's 
poetry is the image of his goodness. Its music, 
the harmony of its verse and thought, the sim- 
plicity of its expression, the sincerity of its sen- 
timent, are all traits of character no less than 
of genius. Like most other poets he doubt- 
less wrote much that will not last, and as his 
barque floats down the current of time there 
will be jettison of part of the cargo. But what 
remains will be dear to future generations 
as to ours, and the lovers of the poetry will 
then, as now, be lovers of the poet. 



AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL POEMS 




W S~^a, \l^ * O Cj-^-i^A-O^AjO-e^ 



THE BATTLE OF LOVELL'S POND 1 

Cold, cold is the north wind and rude is the blast 

That sweeps like a hurricane loudly and fast, 

As it moans through the tall waving pines lone and 

drear, 
Sighs a requiem sad o'er the warrior's bier. 

The war-whoop is still, and the savage's yell 

Has sunk into silence along the wild dell; 

The din of the battle, the tumult, is o'er, 

And the war-clarion's voice is now heard no more. 

1 These verses were written by Longfellow in his fourteenth year, 
and have interest as the first of his writing to appear in print. They 
were published in the Portland Gazette November 17, 1820. 

The battle to which they refer was famous in the annals of 
Maine and New Hampshire, and the story of it was fitted to touch 
a boy's fancy. It was one in the long series of unhappy fights be- 
tween the settlers in the wild border region of Maine and the Indians 
whom they dispossessed and maltreated. In the spring of 1724 a 
volunteer company of forty-six men, under the command of Captain 
John Lovewell, who in the preceding winter had conducted two suc- 
cessful expeditions against the Indians, set out to attack the Indian 
villages on the upper part of the Saco River. On the third of May, 
near a large pond, they met a considerable body of Indians and en- 
gaged in a battle in which Lovewell and more than thirty of his men 
were killed. It was the last serious fight with the Indians in this 
part of the country. 

In 1825 the hundredth anniversary of the battle was commemorated 
at Fryeburg, Maine, and the still youthful poet wrote an Ode for the 
occasion. 

[ 43 ] 



PRELUDE TO 

The warriors that fought for their country, and bled, 
Have sunk to their rest; the damp earth is their bed; 
No stone tells the place where their ashes repose, 
Nor points out the spot from the graves of their foes. 

They died in their glory, surrounded by fame, 
And Victory's loud trump their death did proclaim; 
They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast, 
And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest. 



PRELUDE TO VOICES OF THE NIGHT 

Pleasant it was, when woods were green 

And winds were soft and low, 
To lie amid some sylvan scene, 
Where, the long drooping boughs between, 
Shadows dark and sunlight sheen 
Alternate come and go; 

Or where the denser grove receives 

No sunlight from above, 
But the dark foliage interweaves 
In one unbroken roof of leaves, 
Underneath whose sloping eaves 

The shadows hardly move. 

Beneath some patriarchal tree 

I lay upon the ground; 
His hoary arms uplifted he, 
And all the broad leaves over me 
[ 44 ] 



VOICES OF THE NIGHT 

Clapped their little hands in glee, 
With one continuous sound ; — 



A slumberous sound, a sound that brings 

The feelings of a dream, 
As of innumerable wings, 
As, when a bell no longer swings, 
Faint the hollow murmur rings 

O'er meadow, lake, and stream. 

And dreams of that which cannot die, 

Bright visions, came to me, 
As lapped in thought I used to lie, 
And gaze into the summer sky, 
Where the sailing clouds went by, 

Like ships upon the sea; 

Dreams that the soul of youth engage 

Ere Fancy has been quelled; 
Old legends of the monkish page, 
Traditions of the saint and sage, 
Tales that have the rime of age, 

And chronicles of eld. 

And, loving still these quaint old themes, 

Even in the city's throng 
I feel the freshness of the streams, 
That, crossed by shades and sunny gleams, 
Water the green land of dreams, 

The holy land of song. 
[ 45 ] 



PRELUDE TO 

Therefore, at Pentecost, which brings 
The Spring, clothed like a bride, 

When nestling buds unfold their wings, 

And bishop's-caps have golden rings, 

Musing upon many things, 
I sought the woodlands wide. 

The green trees whispered low and mild; 

It was a sound of joy! 
They were my playmates when a child, 
And rocked me in their arms so wild! 
Still they looked at me and smiled, 

As if I were a boy; 

And ever whispered, mild and low, 
" Come, be a child once more ! " 

And waved their long arms to and fro, 

And beckoned solemnly and slow; 

Oh, I could not choose but go 
Into the woodlands hoar, — 

Into the blithe and breathing air, 

Into the solemn wood, 
Solemn and silent everywhere! 
Nature with folded hands seemed there, 
Kneeling at her evening prayer! 

Like one in prayer I stood. 

Before me rose an avenue 
Of tall and sombrous pines; 
t 46 ] 



VOICES OF THE NIGHT 

Abroad their fan-like branches grew, 
And, where the sunshine darted through, 
Spread a vapor soft and blue, 
In long and sloping lines. 

And, falling on my weary brain, 

Like a fast-falling shower, 
The dreams of youth came back again, — 
Low lispings of the summer rain, 
Dropping on the ripened grain, 

As once upon the flower. 

Visions of childhood! Stay, oh, stay! 

Ye were so sweet and wild! 
And distant voices seemed to say, 
"It cannot be! They pass away! 
Other themes demand thy lay; 

Thou art no more a child! 

" The land of Song within thee lies, 
Watered by living springs; 
The lids of Fancy's sleepless eyes 
Are gates unto that Paradise; 
Holy thoughts, like stars, arise; 
Its clouds are angels' wings. 

"Learn, that henceforth thy song shall be, 
Not mountains capped with snow, 
Nor forests sounding like the sea, 
Nor rivers flowing ceaselessly, 
[ 47 ] 



VOICES OF THE NIGHT 

Where the woodlands bend to see 
The bending heavens below. 

"There is a forest where the din 

Of iron branches sounds; 
A mighty river roars between, 
And whosoever looks therein 
Sees the heavens all black with sin, 

Sees not its depths nor bounds. 

"Athwart the swinging branches cast, 

Soft rays of sunshine pour; 
Then comes the fearful wintry blast; 
Our hopes, like withered leaves, fall fast; 
Pallid lips say, 'It is past! 

We can return no more!' 

" Look, then, into thy heart, and write ! 

Yes, into life's deep stream! 
All forms of sorrow and delight, 
All solemn Voices of the Night, 
That can soothe thee, or affright, — 

Be these henceforth thy theme." 



[ 48 ] 



A PSALM OF LIFE 



A PSALM OF LIFE 

WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN SAID TO THE 
PSALMIST 

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, 
Life is but an empty dream ! — 

For the soul is dead that slumbers, 
And things are not what they seem. 

Life is real! Life is earnest! 

And the grave is not its goal; 
Dust thou art, to dust returnest, 

Was not spoken of the soul. 

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, 

Is our destined end or way; 
But to act, that each to-morrow 

Find us farther than to-day. 

Art is long, and Time is fleeting, 

And our hearts, though stout and brave, 

Still, like muffled drums, are beating 
Funeral marches to the grave. 

In the world's broad field of battle, 

In the bivouac of Life, 
Be not like dumb, driven cattle! 

Be a hero in the strife! 
[ 49 ] 



WRECK OF THE HESPERUS 

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! 

Let the dead Past bury its dead ! 
Act, — act in the living Present ! 

Heart within, and God o'erhead! 

Lives of great men all remind us 
We can make our lives sublime, 

And, departing, leave behind us 
Footprints on the sands of time; 

Footprints, that perhaps another, 
Sailing o'er life's solemn main, 

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, 
Seeing, shall take heart again. 

Let us, then, be up and doing, 
With a heart for any fate; 

Still achieving, still pursuing, 
Learn to labor and to wait. 



THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS 

It was the schooner Hesperus, 

That sailed the wintry sea; 
And the skipper had taken his little daughter, 

To bear him company. 

Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, 
Her cheeks like the dawn of day, 
[ 50 ] 



WRECK OF THE HESPERUS 

And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds, 
That ope in the month of May. 

The skipper he stood beside the helm, 

His pipe was in his mouth, 
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow 

The smoke now West, now South. 

Then up and spake an old Sailor, 
Had sailed to the Spanish Main, 
" I pray thee, put into yonder port, 
For I fear a hurricane. 

" Last night, the moon had a golden ring, 
And to-night no moon we see!" 
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe, 
And a scornful laugh laughed he. 

Colder and louder blew the wind, 

A gale from the Northeast, 
The snow fell hissing in the brine, 

And the billows frothed like yeast. 

Down came the storm, and smote amain 

The vessel in its strength; 
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed, 

Then leaped her cable's length. 

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughter, 
And do not tremble so; 
[ 51 ] 



WRECK OF THE HESPERUS 

For I can weather the roughest gale 
That ever wind did blow." 



He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat 

Against the stinging blast; 
He cut a rope from a broken spar, 

And bound her to the mast. 

" O father ! I hear the church-bells ring, 

Oh say, what may it be ? " 
" 'T is a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast ! " — 

And he steered for the open sea. 

" O father ! I hear the sound of guns, 

Oh say, what may it be ? " 
" Some ship in distress, that cannot live 

In such an angry sea!" 

" O father ! I see a gleaming light, 
Oh say, what may it be ? " 
But the father answered never a word, 
A frozen corpse was he. 

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark, 
With his face turned to the skies, 

The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow 
On his fixed and glassy eyes. 

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed 
That saved she might be; 
[ 52 ] 



WRECK OF THE HESPERUS 

And she thought of Christ who stilled the wave, 
On the Lake of Galilee. 



And fast through the midnight dark and drear, 
Through the whistling sleet and snow, 

Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept 
Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe. 

And ever the fitful gusts between 

A sound came from the land; 
It was the sound of the trampling surf 

On the rocks and the hard sea-sand. 

The breakers were right beneath her bows, 

She drifted a dreary wreck, 
And a whooping billow swept the crew 

Like icicles from her deck. 

She struck where the white and fleecy waves 

Looked soft as carded wool, 
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side 

Like the horns of an angry bull. 

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice, 
With the masts went by the board; 

Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank, 
Ho! ho! the breakers roared! 

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach, 
A fisherman stood aghast, 
[ 53 ] 



THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH 

To see the form of a maiden fair, 
Lashed close to a drifting mast. 

The salt sea was frozen on her breast, 

The salt tears in her eyes; 
And he saw her hair, like the brown seaweed, 

On the billows fall and rise. 

Such was the wreck of the Hesperus, 
In the midnight and the snow! 

Christ save us all from a death like this, 
On the reef of Norman's Woe! 



THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH 1 

Under a spreading chestnut-tree 

The village smithy stands; 
The smith, a mighty man is he, 

With large and sinewy hands; 
And the muscles of his brawny arms 

Are strong as iron bands. 

His hair is crisp, and black, and long, 
His face is like the tan; 

1 The suggestion of this poem came from the smithy which the 
poet passed daily, and which stood beneath a horse-chestnut tree 
not far from his house in Cambridge. The tree, against the pro- 
tests of Mr. Longfellow and others, was removed in 1876, on the 
ground that it took up too much of the road. 
[ 54 ] 



THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH 

His brow is wet with honest sweat, 

He earns whate'er he can, 
And looks the whole world in the face, 

For he owes not any man. 

Week in, week out, from morn till night, 
You can hear his bellows blow; 

You can hear him swing his heavy sledge, 
With measured beat and slow, 

Like a sexton ringing the village bell, 
When the evening sun is low. 

And children coming home from school 

Look in at the open door; 
They love to see the flaming forge, 

And hear the bellows roar, 
And watch the burning sparks that fly 

Like chaff from a threshing-floor. 

He goes on Sunday to the church, 

And sits among his boys; 
He hears the parson pray and preach. 

He hears his daughter's voice, 
Singing in the village choir, 

And it makes his heart rejoice. 

It sounds to him like her mother's voice, 

Singing in Paradise! 
He needs must think of her once more, 

How in the grave she lies; 
[ 55 ] 



TO THE RIVER CHARLES 

And with his hard, rough hand he wipes 
A tear out of his eyes. 

Toiling, — rejoicing, — sorrowing, 

Onward through life he goes; 
Each morning sees some task begin, 

Each evening sees it close; 
Something attempted, something done, 

Has earned a night's repose. 

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend, 
For the lesson thou hast taught! 

Thus at the flaming forge of life 
Our fortunes must be wrought; 

Thus on its sounding anvil shaped 
Each burning deed and thought. 



TO THE RIVER CHARLES 

River! that in silence windest 

Through the meadows, bright and free, 

Till at length thy rest thou findest 
In the bosom of the sea! 

Four long years of mingled feeling, 
Half in rest, and half in strife, 

I have seen thy waters stealing 
Onward, like the stream of life. 1 

1 The river Charles flows in view of Craigie House, which Mr. 
Longfellow began to occupy in the summer of 1837. 
[ 56 ] 



TO THE RIVER CHARLES 

Thou hast taught me, Silent River! 

Many a lesson, deep and long; 
Thou hast been a generous giver; 

I can give thee but a song. 

Oft in sadness and in illness, 
I have watched thy current glide, 

Till the beauty of its stillness 
Overflowed me, like a tide. 

And in better hours and brighter, 
When I saw thy waters gleam, 

I have felt my heart beat lighter, 
And leap onward with thy stream. 

Not for this alone I love thee, 
Nor because thy waves of blue 

From celestial seas above thee 
Take their own celestial hue. 

Where yon shadowy woodlands hide thee, 

And thy waters disappear, 
Friends I love have dwelt beside thee, 

And have made thy margin dear. 

More than this ; — thy name reminds me 
Of three friends, 1 all true and tried; 

And that name, like magic, binds me 
Closer, closer to thy side. 

1 These three friends were Charles Sumner, Charles Folsom, and 
Charles Amory. 

[ 57 ] 



THE BRIDGE 

Friends my soul with joy remembers ! 

How like quivering flames they start, 
When I fan the living embers 

On the hearthstone of my heart ! 

'Tis for this, thou Silent River! 

That my spirit leans to thee; 
Thou hast been a generous giver, 

Take this idle song from me. 



THE BRIDGE. 1 

I stood on the bridge at midnight, 
As the clocks were striking the hour, 

And the moon rose o'er the city, 
Behind the dark church-tower. 

I saw her bright reflection 

In the waters under me, 
Like a golden goblet falling 

And sinking into the sea. 

And far in the hazy distance 
Of that lovely night in June, 

1 The poem when first published in 1845 was entitled The Bridge 
over the Charles, the river which separates Cambridge from Boston. 
The old wooden bridge has now, 1906, given place to one of stone. 
The " flaming furnace " referred to in the third stanza was that of 
an iron foundry on the so-called Milldam between Boston and 
Brookline. 

[ 58 ] 



THE BRIDGE 

The blaze of the flaming furnace 
Gleamed redder than the moon. 

Among the long, black rafters 

The wavering shadows lay, 
And the current that came from the ocean 

Seemed to lift and bear them away; 

As, sweeping and eddying through them, 

Rose the belated tide, 
And, streaming into the moonlight, 

The seaweed floated wide. 

And like those waters rushing 

Among the wooden piers, 
A flood of thoughts came o'er me 

That filled my eyes with tears. 

How often, oh how often, 

In the days that had gone by, 

I had stood on that bridge at midnight 
And gazed on that wave and sky! 

How often, oh how often, 

I had wished that the ebbing tide 

Would bear me away on its bosom 
O'er the ocean wild and wide ! 

For my heart was hot and restless, 
And my life was full of care, 
[ 59 ] 



THE BRIDGE 

And the burden laid upon me 

Seemed greater than I could bear. 

But now it has fallen from me, 

It is buried in the sea; 
And only the sorrow of others 

Throws its shadow over me. 

Yet whenever I cross the river 
On its bridge with wooden piers, 

Like the odor of brine from the ocean 
Comes the thought of other years. 

And I think how many thousands 

Of care-encumbered men, 
Each bearing his burden of sorrow, 

Have crossed the bridge since then. 

I see the long procession 

Still passing to and fro, 
The young heart hot and restless, 

And the old subdued and slow! 

And forever and forever, 
As long as the river flows, 

As long as the heart has passions, 
As long as life has woes; 

The moon and its broken reflection 
And its shadows shall appear, 

As the symbol of love in heaven, 
And its wavering image here. 
[ 60 ] 



THE ROPEWALK 



THE ROPEWALK. 1 

In that building, long and low, 
With its windows all a-row, 

Like the port-holes of a hulk, 
Human spiders spin and spin, 
Backward down their threads so thin 

Dropping, each a hempen bulk. 

At the end, an open door; 
Squares of sunshine on the floor 

Light the long and dusky lane; 
And the whirring of a wheel, 
Dull and drowsy, makes me feel 

All its spokes are in my brain. 

As the spinners to the end 
Downward go and reascend, 

Gleam the long threads in the sun; 
While within this brain of mine 
Cobwebs brighter and more fine 

By the busy wheel are spun. 

Two fair maidens in a swing, 
Like white doves upon the wing, 

First before my vision pass; 
Laughing, as their gentle hands 

1 The Ropewalk stood on the further end of the open tract, of 
which the greater part is now, 1906, known as the Soldiers' Field. 
[ 61 ] 



THE ROPEWALK 

Closely clasp the twisted strands, 
At their shadow on the grass. 

Then a booth of mountebanks, 
With its smell of tan and planks, 

And a girl poised high in air 
On a cord, in spangled dress, 
With a faded loveliness, 

And a weary look of care. 

Then a homestead among farms, 
And a woman with bare arms 

Drawing water from a well; 
As the bucket mounts apace, 
With it mounts her own fair face, 

As at some magician's spell. 

Then an old man in a tower, 
Ringing loud the noontide hour, 

While the rope coils round and round 
Like a serpent at his feet, 
And again, in swift retreat, 

Nearly lifts him from the ground. 

Then within a prison-yard, 
Faces fixed, and stern, and hard, 

Laughter and indecent mirth; 
Ah ! it is the gallows-tree ! 
Breath of Christian charity, 

Blow, and sweep it from the earth! 
[ 62 ] 



A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE 

Then a school-boy, with his kite 
Gleaming in a sky of light, 

And an eager, upward look; 
Steeds pursued through lane and field; 
Fowlers with their snares concealed; 

And an angler by a brook. 

Ships rejoicing in the breeze, 
Wrecks that float o'er unknown seas, 

Anchors dragged through faithless sand ; 
Sea-fog drifting overhead, 
And, with lessening line and lead, 

Sailors feeling for the land. 

All these scenes do I behold, 
These, and many left untold, 

In that building long and low; 
While the wheel goes round and round, 
With a drowsy, dreamy sound, 

And the spinners backward go. 



A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE 

This is the place. Stand still, my steed, 

Let me review the scene, 
And summon from the shadowy Past 

The forms that once have been. 

The Past and Present here unite 
Beneath Time's flowing tide, 
[ 63 ] 



A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE 

Like footprints hidden by a brook, 
But seen on either side. 

Here runs the highway to the town; 

There the green lane descends, 
Through which I walked to church with thee, 

O gentlest of my friends! 1 

The shadow of the linden-trees 

Lay moving on the grass; 
Between them and the moving boughs, 

A shadow, thou didst pass. 

Thy dress was like the lilies, 

And thy heart as pure as they: 
One of God's holy messengers 

Did walk with me that day. 

I saw the branches of the trees 

Bend down thy touch to meet, 
The clover-blossoms in the grass 

Rise up to kiss thy feet. 

"Sleep, sleep to-day, tormenting cares, 
Of earth and folly born ! " 
Solemnly sang the village choir 
On that sweet Sabbath morn. 

1 The scene of this poem is mentioned in the poet's diary under 
date of August 31, 1846. "In the afternoon a delicious drive with F. 
and C. through Brookline, by the church and ' the green lane,' and 
homeward through a lovelier lane, with barberries and wild vines 
clustering over the old stone walls." 

[ 64 ] 



A GLEAM OF SUNSHINE 

Through the closed blinds the golden sun 

Poured in a dusty beam, 
Like the celestial ladder seen 

By Jacob in his dream. 

And ever and anon, the wind 

Sweet-scented with the hay, 
Turned o'er the hymn-book's fluttering leaves 

That on the window lay. 

Long was the good man's sermon, 

Yet it seemed not so to me; 
For he spake of Ruth the beautiful, 

And still I thought of thee. 

Long was the prayer he uttered, 

Yet it seemed not so to me; 
For in my heart I prayed with him, 

And still I thought of thee. 

But now, alas ! the place seems changed ; 

Thou art no longer here : 
Part of the sunshine of the scene 

With thee did disappear. 

Though thoughts, deep-rooted in my heart, 

Like pine-trees dark and high, 
Subdue the light of noon, and breathe 

A low and ceaseless sigh; 
[ 65 ] 



TO A CHILD 

This memory brightens o'er the past, 
As when the sun, concealed 

Behind some cloud that near us hangs, 
Shines on a distant field. 



TO A CHILD 

Dear Child ! how radiant on thy mother's knee, 

With merry-making eyes and jocund smiles, 

Thou gazest at the painted tiles, 

Whose figures grace, 

With many a grotesque form and face, 

The ancient chimney of thy nursery! 

The lady with the gay macaw, 

The dancing girl, the brave bashaw 

With bearded lip and chin; 

And, leaning idly o'er his gate, 

Beneath the imperial fan of state, 

The Chinese mandarin. 

With what a look of proud command 
Thou shakest in thy little hand 
The coral rattle with its silver bells, 
Making a merry tune ! 
Thousands of years in Indian seas 
That coral grew, by slow degrees, 
Until some deadly and wild monsoon 
Dashed it on Coromandel's sand! 
Those silver bells 

[ 66 ] 



TO A CHILD 

Reposed of yore, 

As shapeless ore, 

Far down in the deep-sunken wells 

Of darksome mines, 

In some obscure and sunless place, 

Beneath huge Chimborazo's base, 

Or Potosi's o'erhanging pines! 

And thus for thee, O little child, 

Through many a danger and escape, 

The tall ships passed the stormy cape; 

For thee in foreign lands remote, 

Beneath a burning, tropic clime, 

The Indian peasant, chasing the wild goat, 

Himself as swift and wild, 

In falling, clutched the frail arbute, 

The fibres of whose shallow root, 

Uplifted from the soil, betrayed 

The silver veins beneath it laid, 

The buried treasures of the miser, Time. 

But, lo! thy door is left ajar; 
Thou hearest footsteps from afar; 
And, at the sound, 
Thou turnest round 
With quick and questioning eyes, 
Like one who, in a foreign land, 
Beholds on every hand 
Some source of wonder and surprise ! 
And, restlessly, impatiently, 
Thou strivest, strugglest, to be free. 
[ 67 ] 



TO A CHILD 

The four walls of thy nursery 

Are now like prison walls to thee. 

No more thy mother's smiles, 

No more the painted tiles, 

Delight thee, nor the playthings on the floor, 

That won thy little, beating heart before; 

Thou strugglest for the open door. 

Through these once solitary halls 

Thy pattering footstep falls. 

The sound of thy merry voice 

Makes the old walls 

Jubilant, and they rejoice 

With the joy of thy young heart, 

O'er the light of whose gladness 

No shadows of sadness 

From the sombre background of memory start. 

Once, ah! once, within these walls, 
One whom memory oft recalls, 
The Father of his Country, dwelt. , 
And yonder meadows broad and damp 
The fires of the besieging camp 
Encircled with a burning belt. 
Up and down these echoing stairs, 
Heavy with the weight of cares, 
Sounded his majestic tread; 
Yes ! within this very room 
Sat he in those hours of gloom, 
Weary both in heart and head. 
[ 68 ] 



TO A CHILD 

But what are these grave thoughts to thee ? 

Out, out! into the open air! 

Thy only dream is liberty, 

Thou carest little how or where. 

I see thee eager at thy play, 

Now shouting to the apples on the tree, 

With cheeks as round and red as they; 

And now among the yellow stalks, 

Among the flowering shrubs and plants, 

As restless as the bee. 

Along the garden walks, 

The tracks of thy small carriage-wheels I trace; 

And see at every turn how they efface 

Whole villages of sand-roofed tents, 

That rise like golden domes 

Above the cavernous and secret homes 

Of wandering and nomadic tribes of ants. 

Ah, cruel little Tamerlane, 

Who, with thy dreadful reign, 

Dost persecute and overwhelm 

These hapless Troglodytes of thy realm! 

What ! tired already ! with those suppliant looks, 
And voice more beautiful than a poet's books 
Or murmuring sound of water as it flows, 
Thou comest back to parley with repose! 
This rustic seat in the old apple-tree, 
With its o'erhanging golden canopy 
Of leaves illuminate with autumnal hues, 
And shining with the argent light of dews, 
t 69 ] 



TO A CHILD 

Shall for a season be our place of rest. 
Beneath us, like an oriole's pendent nest, 
From which the laughing birds have taken wing, 
By thee abandoned, hangs thy vacant swing. 
Dream-like the waters of the river gleam ; 
A sailless vessel drops adown the stream, 
And like it, to a sea as wide and deep, 
Thou driftest gently down the tides of sleep. 

child! O new-born denizen 
Of life's great city ! on thy head 
The glory of the morn is shed, 
Like a celestial benison! 

Here at the portal thou dost stand, 
And with thy little hand 
Thou openest the mysterious gate 
Into the future's undiscovered land. 

1 see its valves expand, 
As at the touch of Fate! 

Into those realms of love and hate, 

Into that darkness blank and drear, 

By some prophetic feeling taught, 

I launch the bold, adventurous thought, 

Freighted with hope and fear; 

As upon subterranean streams, 

In caverns unexplored and dark, 

Men sometimes launch a fragile bark, 

Laden with flickering fire, 

And watch its swift receding beams, 

[ 70 ] 



TO A CHILD 

Until at length they disappear, 
And in the distant dark expire. 

By what astrology of fear or hope 

Dare I to cast thy horoscope ! 

Like the new moon thy life appears; 

A little strip of silver light, 

And widening outward into night 

The shadowy disk of future years; 

And yet upon its outer rim, 

A luminous circle, faint and dim, 

And scarcely visible to us here, 

Rounds and completes the perfect sphere; 

A prophecy and intimation, 

A pale and feeble adumbration, 

Of the great world of light, that lies 

Behind all human destinies. 

Ah ! if thy fate, with anguish fraught, 
Should be to wet the dusty soil 
With the hot tears and sweat of toil, — 
To struggle with imperious thought, 
Until the overburdened brain, 
Weary with labor, faint with pain, 
Like a jarred pendulum, retain 
Only its motion, not its power, — 
Remember, in that perilous hour, 
When most afflicted and oppressed, 
From labor there shall come forth rest. 

[ 71 ] 



TO A CHILD 

And if a more auspicious fate 

On thy advancing steps await, 

Still let it ever be thy pride 

To linger by the laborer's side; 

With words of sympathy or song 

To cheer the dreary march along 

Of the great army of the poor, 

O'er desert sand, o'er dangerous moor. 

Nor to thyself the task shall be 

Without reward; for thou shalt learn 

The wisdom early to discern 

True beauty in utility; 

As great Pythagoras of yore, 

Standing beside the blacksmith's door, 

And hearing the hammers, as they smote 

The anvils with a different note, 

Stole from the varying tones, that hung 

Vibrant on every iron tongue, 

The secret of the sounding wire, 

And formed the seven-chorded lyre. 

Enough! I will not play the Seer; 
I will no longer strive to ope 
The mystic volume, where appear 
The herald Hope, forerunning Fear, 
And Fear, the pursuivant of Hope. 
Thy destiny remains untold; 
For, like Acestes* shaft of old, 
The swift thought kindles as it flies, 
And burns to ashes in the skies. 
[ 72 ] 



THE OPEN WINDOW 



THE OPEN WINDOW 

The old house by the lindens l 

Stood silent in the shade, 
And on the gravelled pathway 

The light and shadow played. 

I saw the nursery windows 

Wide open to the air; 
But the faces of the children, 

They were no longer there. 

The large Newfoundland house-dog 

Was standing by the door; 
He looked for his little playmates, 

Who would return no more. 

They walked not under the lindens, 

They played not in the hall; 
But shadow, and silence, and sadness 

Were hanging over all. 

The birds sang in the branches, 
With sweet, familiar tone; 

1 The old house by the lindens is what was known as the Lechmere 
house which stood on Brattle Street, at the corner of Sparks Street, 
in Cambridge. It was in this house that Baron Riedesel was quartered 
as prisoner of war after the surrender of Burgoyne, and the window- 
pane used to be shown on which the Baroness wrote her name with a 
diamond. 

[ 73 ] 



CHURCHYARD AT CAMBRIDGE 

But the voices of the children 
Will be heard in dreams alone! 

And the boy that walked beside me, 

He could not understand 
Why closer in mine, ah ! closer, 

I pressed his warm, soft hand! 



IN THE CHURCHYARD AT CAMBRIDGE 

In the village churchyard she lies, 
Dust is in her beautiful eyes, 

No more she breathes, nor feels, nor stirs; 
At her feet and at her head 
Lies a slave to attend the dead, 

But their dust is white as hers. 

Was she, a lady of high degree, 
So much in love with the vanity 

And foolish pomp of this world of ours ? 
Or was it Christian charity, 
And lowliness and humility, 

The richest and rarest of all dowers ? 

Who shall tell us ? No one speaks ; 
No color shoots into those cheeks, 

Either of anger or of pride, 
At the rude question we have asked; 
Nor will the mystery be unmasked 

By those who are sleeping at her side. 
[ 74 ] 



THE BURIAL OF THE POET 

Hereafter ? — And do you think to look 
On the terrible pages of that Book 

To find her failings, faults, and errors ? 
Ah, you will then have other cares, 
In your own shortcomings and despairs, 

In your own secret sins and terrors! 



THE BURIAL OF THE POET 1 

In the old churchyard of his native town, 
And in the ancestral tomb beside the wall, 
We laid him in the sleep that comes to all, 
And left him to his rest and his renown. 

The snow was falling, as if Heaven dropped down 
White flowers of Paradise to strew his pall; — 
The dead around him seemed to wake, and call 
His name, as worthy of so white a crown. 

And now the moon is shining on the scene, 
And the broad sheet of snow is written o'er 
With shadows cruciform of leafless trees, 

As once the winding-sheet of Saladin 

With chapters of the Koran ; but, ah ! more 
Mysterious and triumphant signs are these. 

1 The Poet was Richard Henry Dana, author of "The Buccaneer" 
and other memorable poems. He died in 1879. 



[ 75 ] 



THE TWO ANGELS 

THE TWO ANGELS 1 

Two angels, one of Life and one of Death, 
Passed o'er our village as the morning broke; 

The dawn was on their faces, and beneath, 

The sombre houses hearsed with plumes of smoke. 

Their attitude and aspect were the same, 
Alike their features and their robes of white; 

But one was crowned with amaranth, as with flame, 
And one with asphodels, like flakes of light. 

I saw them pause on their celestial way; 

Then said I, with deep fear and doubt oppressed, 
" Beat not so loud, my heart, lest thou betray 
The place where thy beloved are at rest!" 

And he who wore the crown of asphodels, 
Descending, at my door began to knock, 

And my soul sank within me, as in wells 

The waters sink before an earthquake's shock. 

I recognized the nameless agony, 

The terror and the tremor and the pain, 

That oft before had filled or haunted me, 

And now returned with threefold strength again. 

1 This poem was written, as Mr. Longfellow told in a letter, " on 
the birth of my younger daughter, and the death of the young and 
beautiful wife of my neighbor and friend, the poet Lowell." The 
date was the twenty-seventh of October, 1853. 

[ 76 ] 



THE TWO ANGELS 

The door I opened to my heavenly guest, 

And listened, for I thought I heard God's voice; 

And, knowing whatsoe'er he sent was best, 
Dared neither to lament nor to rejoice. 

Then with a smile, that filled the house with light, 
"My errand is not Death, but Life," he said; 

And ere I answered, passing out of sight, 
On his celestial embassy he sped. 

'T was at thy door, O friend ! and not at mine, 
The angel with the amaranthine wreath, 

Pausing, descended, and with voice divine 

Whispered a word that had a sound like Death. 

Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom, 
A shadow on those features fair and thin; 

And softly, from that hushed and darkened room, 
Two angels issued, where but one went in. 

All is of God ! If he but wave his hand, 

The mists collect, the rain falls thick and loud, 

Till, with a smile of light on sea and land, 
Lo! he looks back from the departing cloud. 

Angels of Life and Death alike are his; 

Without his leave they pass no threshold o'er; 
Who, then, would wish or dare, believing this, 

Against his messengers to shut the door ? 
[ 77 ] 



RESIGNATION 



RESIGNATION 1 

There is no flock, however watched and tended, 

But one dead lamb is there! 
There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended, 

But has one vacant chair! 

The air is full of farewells to the dying, 

And mournings for the dead; 
The heart of Rachel, for her children crying, 

Will not be comforted! 

Let us be patient! These severe afflictions 

Not from the ground arise, 
But oftentimes celestial benedictions 

Assume this dark disguise. 

We see but dimly through the mists and vapors; 

Amid these earthly damps 
WTiat seem to us but sad, funereal tapers 

May be heaven's distant lamps. 

There is no Death ! What seems so is transition ; 

This life of mortal breath 
Is but a suburb of the life elysian, 

Whose portal we call Death. 

1 Written in the autumn of 1848, after the death of his little daughter 
Fanny. There is a passage in the poet's diary, under date of Novem- 
ber 12, in which he says: "I feel very sad to-day. I miss very much 
my dear little Fanny. An inappeasable longing to see her comes over 
me at times, which I can hardly control." 

[ 78 ] 



RESIGNATION 

She is not dead, — the child of our affection, — 

But gone unto that school 
Where she no longer needs our poor protection, 

And Christ himself doth rule. 

In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion, 

By guardian angels led, 
Safe from temptation, safe from sin's pollution, 

She lives, whom we call dead. 

Day after day we think what she is doing 

In those bright realms of air; 
Year after year, her tender steps pursuing, 

Behold her grown more fair. 

Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken 

The bond which nature gives, 
Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken, 

May reach her where she lives. 

Not as a child shall we again behold her; 

For when with raptures wild 
In our embraces we again enfold her, 

She will not be a child; 

But a fair maiden, in her Father's mansion, 

Clothed with celestial grace; 
And beautiful with all the soul's expansion 

Shall we behold her face. 
[ 79 ] 



SEASIDE AND FIRESIDE 

And though at times impetuous with emotion 

And anguish long suppressed, 
The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean, 

That cannot be at rest, — 

We will be patient, and assuage the feeling 

We may not wholly stay; 
By silence sanctifying, not concealing, 

The grief that must have way. 



DEDICATION TO THE VOLUME ENTITLED 
« THE SEASIDE AND THE FIRESIDE " 

As one who, walking in the twilight gloom, 
Hears round about him voices as it darkens, 

And seeing not the forms from which they come, 
Pauses from time to time, and turns and hearkens ; 

So walking here in twilight, O my friends! 

I hear your voices, softened by the distance, 
And pause, and turn to listen, as each sends 

His words of friendship, comfort, and assistance. 

If any thought of mine, or sung or told, 
Has ever given delight or consolation, 

Ye have repaid me back a thousand-fold, 
By every friendly sign and salutation. 

Thanks for the sympathies that ye have shown ! 
Thanks for each kindly word, each silent token, 
[ 80 ] 



SEASIDE AND FIRESIDE 

That teaches me, when seeming most alone, 

Friends are around us, though no word be spoken. 

Kind messages, that pass from land to land; 

Kind letters, that betray the heart's deep history, 
In which we feel the pressure of a hand, — 

One touch of fire, — and all the rest is mystery ! 

The pleasant books, that silently among 

Our household treasures take familiar places, 

And are to us as if a living tongue 

Spake from the printed leaves or pictured faces! 

Perhaps on earth I never shall behold, 

With eye of sense, your outward form and semblance; 
Therefore to me ye never will grow old, 

But live forever young in my remembrance ! 

Never grow old, nor change, nor pass away! 

Your gentle voices will flow on forever, 
When life grows bare and tarnished with decay, 

As through a leafless landscape flows a river. 

Not chance of birth or place has made us friends, 
Being oftentimes of different tongues and nations, 

But the endeavor for the selfsame ends, 

With the same hopes, and fears, and aspirations. 

Therefore I hope to join your seaside walk, 
Saddened, and mostly silent, with emotion; 
[ 81 ] 



MY LOST YOUTH 

Not interrupting with intrusive talk 

The grand, majestic symphonies of ocean. 

Therefore I hope, as no unwelcome guest, 

At your warm fireside, when the lamps are lighted, 

To have my place reserved among the rest, 
Nor stand as one unsought and uninvited! 



MY LOST YOUTH 

Often I think of the beautiful town 

That is seated by the sea; 1 
Often in thought go up and down 
The pleasant streets of that dear old town, 
And my youth comes back to me. 
And a verse of a Lapland song 
Is haunting my memory still: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

1 Under the date of March 29, 1855, Longfellow notes in his f)iary: 
" At night, as I lie in bed, a poem comes into my mind — a memory 
of Portland, my native town, the city by the sea." And the next day 
he makes the following entry: "Wrote the poem, and am rather 
pleased with the bringing in of the two lines of the old Lapland song 

A boy's will is the wind's will 

And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

The lines are to be found in a Latin treatise entitled Lapponea, 
published in 1674, being a description of Lapland and its people, 
by Johannes Scheffer, Professor at Upsala. Chapter xxv relates to 
the marriage customs of the Lapps, and a nuptial song is given in 
the original Lappish in which the words occur that are translated as 
follows: "Puerorum voluntas, voluntas venti, juvenum cogitationes, 
longae cogitationes." 

[ 82 ] 



MY LOST YOUTH 

I can see the shadowy lines of its trees, 

And catch, in sudden gleams, 
The sheen of the far-surrounding seas, 
And islands that were the Hesperides 
Of all my boyish dreams. 
And the burden of that old song, 
It murmurs and whispers still: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

I remember the black wharves and the slips, 

And the sea-tides tossing free; 
And Spanish sailors with bearded lips, 
And the beauty and mystery of the ships, 
And the magic of the sea. 

And the voice of that wayward song 
Is singing and saying still: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

I remember the bulwarks by the shore, 

And the fort upon the hill; 
The sunrise gun, with its hollow roar, 
The drum -beat repeated o'er and o'er, 
And the bugle wild and shrill. 
And the music of that old song 
Throbs' in my memory still: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

[ 83 ] 



MY LOST YOUTH 

I remember the sea-fight * far away, 

How it thundered o'er the tide ! 
And the dead captains, as they lay 
In their graves, o'erlooking the tranquil bay 
Where they in battle died. 

And the sound of that mournful song 
Goes through me with a thrill: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

I can see the breezy dome of groves, 
The shadows of Deering's Woods; 
And the friendships old and the early loves 
Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves 
In quiet neighborhoods. 

And the verse of that sweet old song, 
It flutters and murmurs still: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

I remember the gleams and glooms that dart 

Across the school-boy's brain; 
The song and the silence in the heart, 
That in part are prophecies, and in part 

Are longings wild and vain. 

And the voice of that fitful song 

1 In 1813, when Longfellow was a boy of six, there was an engage- 
ment off the harbor of Portland between the American brig Enter- 
prise and the English brig Boxer. Both captains were slain, but the 
Enterprise won the day, and after a fight of three quarters of an hour 
came into the harbor, bringing the Boxer with her. 
[ 84 ] 



MY LOST YOUTH 

Sings on, and is never still* 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

There are things of which I may not speak; 

There are dreams that cannot die; 
There are thoughts that make the strong Jieart weak, 
And bring a pallor into the cheek, 
And a mist before the eye. 

And the words of that fatal song 
Come over me like a chill: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

Strange to me now are the forms I meet, 

When I visit the dear old town; 
But the native air is pure and sweet, 
And the trees that o'ershadow each well-known street, 
As they balance up and dowrf, 
Are singing the beautiful song, 
Are sighing and whispering still: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 

And Deering's Woods are fresh and fair, 

And with joy that is almost pain 
My heart goes back to wander there, 
And among the dreams of the days that were, 
I find my lost youth again. 

And the strange and beautiful song, 
[ 85 ] 



BIRTHDAY OF AGASSIZ 

The groves are repeating it still: 
"A boy's will is the wind's will, 
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts." 



THE FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY OF AGASSIZ 1 

MAY 28,1857. 

It was fifty years ago 

In the pleasant month of May, 

In the beautiful Pays de Vaud, 
A child in its cradle lay. 

And Nature, the old nurse, took 

The child upon her knee, 
Saying: "Here is a story-book 

Thy Father has written for thee." 

" Come, wander with me," she said, 
"Into regions yet untrod; 
And read what is still unread 
In the manuscripts of God." 

And he wandered away and away 
With Nature, the dear old nurse, 

Who sang to him night and day 
The rhymes of the universe. 

1 Louis John Rudolph Agassiz, the great naturalist and teacher, 
was born in Switzerland, May 28, 1807, and died at Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, December 14, 1873. 

[ 86 ] 



HAWTHORNE 

And whenever the way seemed long, 

Or his heart began to fail, 
She would sing a more wonderful song, 

Or tell a more marvellous tale. 

So she keeps him still a child, 

And will not let him go, 
Though at times his heart beats wild 

For the beautiful Pays de Vaud; 

Though at times he hears in his dreams 

The Ranz des Vaches of old, 
And the rush of mountain streams 

From glaciers clear and cold; 

And the mother at home says, " Hark ! 

For his voice I listen and yearn ; 
It is growing late and dark, 

And my boy does not return!" 

HAWTHORNE 

MAY 23, 1864. 1 

How beautiful it was, that one bright day 
In the long week of rain ! 

1 The date is that of the burial of Hawthorne. The poem was writ- 
ten just a month later. Mr. Longfellow wrote to Mr. Fields : "I have 
only tried to describe the state of mind I was in on that day. Did you 
not feel so likewise ?" In sending a copy of the lines at the same time 
to Mrs. Hawthorne, he wrote: "I feel how imperfect and inadequate 
they are; but I trust you will pardon their deficiencies for the love 
I bear his memory." 

[ 87 ] 



HAWTHORNE 

Though all its splendor could not chase away 
The omnipresent pain. 

The lovely town was white with apple-blooms, 

And the great elms o'erhead 
Dark shadows wove on their aerial looms 

Shot through with golden thread. 

Across the meadows, by the gray old manse, 

The historic river flowed : 
I was as one who wanders in a trance, 

Unconscious of his road. 

The faces of familiar friends seemed strange; 

Their voices I could hear, 
And yet the words they uttered seemed to change 

Their meaning to my ear. 

For the one face I looked for was not there, 

The one low voice was mute; 
Only an unseen presence filled the air, 

And baffled my pursuit. 

Now I look back, and meadow, manse, and stream 

Dimly my thought defines; 
I only see — a dream within a dream — 

The hill-top hearsed with pines. 

I only hear above his place of rest 
Their tender undertone, 
[ 88 ] 



THREE FRIENDS OF MINE 

The infinite longings of a troubled breast, 
The voice so like his own. 



There in seclusion and remote from men 

The wizard hand lies cold, 
Which at its topmost speed let fall the pen, 

And left the tale half told. 

Ah ! who shall lift that wand of magic power, 

And the lost clew regain ? 
The unfinished window in Aladdin's tower 

Unfinished must remain! 



THREE FRIENDS OF MINE 1 



When I remember them, those friends of mine, 
Who are no longer here, the noble three, 
Who half my life were more than friends to me, 
And whose discourse was like a generous wine, 

I most of all remember the divine 

Something, that shone in them, and made us see 
The archetypal man, and what might be 
The amplitude of Nature's first design. 

In vain I stretch my hands to clasp their hands; 

1 These sonnets record the poet's friendship with Cornelius Con- 
way Felton, once Professor of Greek, afterward President of Harvard 
College, Louis Agassiz and Charles Sumner. The second and third 
sonnets were written at Nahant, where both Longfellow and Agassiz 
had cottages. 

[ 89 ] 



THREE FRIENDS OF MINE 

I cannot find them. Nothing now is left 
But a majestic memory. They meanwhile 
Wander together in Elysian lands, 

Perchance remembering me, who am bereft 

Of their dear presence, and,, remembering, smile. 

ii 

In Attica thy birthplace should have been, 
Or the Ionian Isles, or where the seas 
Encircle in their arms the Cyclades, 
So wholly Greek wast thou in thy serene 

And childlike joy of life, O Philhellene! 

Around thee would have swarmed the Attic bees; 
Homer had been thy friend, or Socrates, 
And Plato welcomed thee to his demesne. 

For thee old legends breathed historic breath; 
Thou sawest Poseidon in the purple sea, 
And in the sunset Jason's fleece of gold ! 

Oh, what hadst thou to do with cruel Death, 
Who wast so full of life, or Death with thee, 
That thou shouldst die before thou hadst grown old ! 

in 
I stand again on the familiar shore, 
And hear the waves of the distracted sea 
Piteously calling and lamenting thee, 
And waiting restless at thy cottage door. 
The rocks, the seaweed on the ocean floor, 
The willows in the meadow, and the free 
Wild winds of the Atlantic welcome me; 
[ 90 ] 



THREE FRIENDS OF MINE 

Then why shouldst thou be dead, and come no more ? 
Ah, why shouldst thou be dead, when common men 

Are busy with their trivial affairs, 

Having and holding ? Why, when thou hadst read 
Nature's mysterious manuscript, and then 

Wast ready to reveal the truth it bears, 

Why art thou silent ? Why shouldst thou be dead ? 

IV 

River, that stealest with such silent pace 
Around the City of the Dead, 1 where lies 
A friend who bore thy name, and whom these eyes 
Shall see no more in his accustomed place, 

Linger and fold him in thy soft embrace, 

And say good night, for now the western skies 
Are red with sunset, and gray mists arise 
Like damps that gather on a dead man's face. 

Good night ! good night ! as we so oft have said 
Beneath this roof at midnight, in the days 
That are no more, and shall no more return. 

Thou hast but taken thy lamp and gone to bed; 
I stay a little longer, as one stays 
To cover up the embers that still burn. 



The doors are all wide open; at the gate 
The blossomed lilacs counterfeit a blaze, 
And seem to warm the air; a dreamy haze 
Hangs o'er the Brighton meadows like a fate, 
1 Mount Auburn Cemetery lies near the river bank. 
[ 91 ] 



THE HERONS OF ELMWOOD 

And on their margin, with sea-tides elate, 
The flooded Charles, as in the happier days, 
Writes the last letter of his name, and stays 
His restless steps, as if compelled to wait. 

I also wait; but they will come no more, 

Those friends of mine, whose presence satisfied 
The thirst and hunger of my heart. Ah me ! 

They have forgotten the pathway to my door! 
Something is gone from nature since they died, 
And summer is not summer, nor can be. 



THE HERONS OF ELMWOOD 

Warm and still is the summer night, 
As here by the river's brink I wander; 

White overhead are the stars, and white 

The glimmering lamps on the hillside yonder. 

Silent are all the sounds of day; 

Nothing I hear but the chirp of crickets, 
And the cry of the herons winging their way 

O'er the poet's house in the Elmwood * thickets. 

Call to him, herons, as slowly you pass 

To your roosts in the haunts of the exiled thrushes, 

Sing him the song of the green morass, 

And the tides that water the reeds and rushes. 

1 Elmwood, a short distance from Ixmgfellow's house, was the 
home of his brother poet and friend, James Russell Lowell. 
[ 92 ] 



THE HERONS OF ELMWOOD 

Sing him the mystical Song of the Hern, 

And the secret that baffles our utmost seeking; 

For only a sound of lament we discern, 

And cannot interpret the words you are speaking. 

Sing of the air, and the wild delight 

Of wings that uplift and winds that uphold you, 
The joy of freedom, the rapture of flight 

Through the drift of the floating mists that enfold you; 

Of the landscape lying so far below, 

With its towns and rivers and desert places; 

And the splendor of light above, and the glow 
Of the limitless, blue, ethereal spaces. 

Ask him if songs of the Troubadours, 
Or of Minnesingers in old black-letter, 

Sound in his ears more sweet than yours, 

And if yours are not sweeter and wilder and better. 

Sing to him, say to him, here at his gate, , 
Where the boughs of the stately elms are meeting, 

Some one hath lingered to meditate, 

And send him unseen this friendly greeting; 

That many another hath done the same, 

Though not by a sound was the silence broken; 

The surest pledge of a deathless name 

Is the silent homage of thoughts unspoken. 
[ 93 ] 



THE CHILDREN'S HOUR 



THE CHILDREN'S HOUR 

Between the dark and the daylight, 
When the night is beginning to lower, 

Comes a pause in the day's occupations, 
That is known as the Children's Hour. 

I hear in the chamber above me 

The patter of little feet, 
The sound of a door that is opened, 

And voices soft and sweet. 

From my study I see in the lamplight, 
Descending the broad hall stair, 

Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, 
And Edith with golden hair. 

A whisper, and then a silence: 
Yet I know by their merry eyes, 

They are plotting and planning together 
To take me by surprise. 

A sudden rush from the stairway, 
A sudden raid from the hall! 

By three doors left unguarded 
They enter my castle wall ! 

They climb up into my turret, 

O'er the arms and back of my chair; 
[ 94 ] 



THE CHILDREN'S HOUR 

If I try to escape, they surround me; 
They seem to be everywhere. 

They almost devour me with kisses, 
Their arms about me entwine, 

Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen 1 
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine! 

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti, 
Because you have scaled the wall, 

Such an old moustache as I am 
Is not a match for you all ? 

I have you fast in my fortress, 

And will not let you depart, 
But put you down into the dungeon 

In the round-tower of my heart. 

And there will I keep you forever, 

Yes, forever and a day, 
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin, 

And moulder in dust away! 

1 Near Bingen on the Rhine is a little square Mouse-Tower, so 
called from an old word meaning toll, since it was used as a toll-house; 
but there is an old tradition that a certain Bishop Hatto, who had 
been cruel to the people, was attacked in the tower by a great army 
of rats and mice. See Southey's famous poem, Bishop Hatto. 



[ 95 ] 



TRAVELS BY THE FIRESIDE 



TRAVELS BY THE FIRESIDE 

The ceaseless rain is falling fast, 

And yonder gilded vane, 
Immovable for three days past, 

Points to the misty main. 

It drives me in upon myself 

And to the fireside gleams, 
To pleasant books that crowd my shelf, 

And still more pleasant dreams. 

I read whatever bards have sung 

Of lands beyond the sea, 
And the bright days when I was young 

Come thronging back to me. 

In fancy I can hear again 

The Alpine torrent's roar, 
The mule-bells on the hills of Spain, 

The sea at Elsinore. 

I see the convent's gleaming wall 
Rise from its groves of pine, 

And towers of old cathedrals tall, 
And castles by the Rhine. 

I journey on by park and spire, 
Beneath centennial trees, 
[ 96 ] 



AMALFI 

Through fields with poppies all on fire, 
And gleams of distant seas. 

I fear no more the dust and heat, 

No more I feel fatigue, 
While journeying with another's feet 

O'er many a lengthening league. 

Let others traverse sea and land, 
And toil through various climes, 

I turn the world round with my hand 
Reading these poets' rhymes. 

From them I learn whatever lies 
Beneath each changing zone, 

And see, when looking with their eyes, 
Better than with mine own. 



AMALFI 

Sweet the memory is to me 

Of a land beyond the sea, 

Where the waves and mountains meet, 

Where amid her mulberry-trees 

Sits Amalfi in the heat, 

Bathipg ever her white feet 

In the tideless summer seas. 

In the middle of the town, 
From its fountains in the hills, 
[ 97 ] 



AMALFI 

Tumbling through the narrow gorge, 
The Canneto rushes down, 
Turns the great wheels of the mills, 
Lifts the hammers of the forge. 

'T is a stairway, not a street, 
That ascends the deep ravine, 
Where the torrent leaps between 
Rocky walls that almost meet. 
Toiling up from stair to stair 
Peasant girls their burdens bear; 
Sunburnt daughters of the soil, 
Stately figures tall and straight, 
What inexorable fate 
Dooms them to this life of toil ? 

Lord of vineyards and of lands, 
Far above the convent stands. 
On its terraced walk aloof 
Leans a monk with folded hands. 
Placid, satisfied, serene, 
Looking down upon the scene 
Over wall and red-tiled roof; 
Wondering unto what good end 
All this toil and traffic tend, 
And why all men cannot be 
Free from care and free from pain, 
And the sordid love of gain, 
And as indolent as he. 

[ 98 ] 



AMALFI 

Where are now the freighted barks 
From the marts of east and west ? 
Where the knights in iron sarks 
Journeying to the Holy Land, 
Glove of steel upon the hand, 
Cross of crimson on the breast ? 
Where the pomp of camp and court ? 
Where the pilgrims with their prayers ? 
Where the merchants with their wares, 
And their gallant brigantines 
Safely sailing into port 
Chased by corsair Algerines ? 

Vanished like a fleet of cloud, 
Like a passing trumpet-blast, 
Are those splendors of the past, 
And the commerce and the crowd! 
Fathoms deep beneath the seas 
Lie the ancient wharves and quays, 
Swallowed by the engulfing waves; 
Silent streets and vacant halls, 
Ruined roofs and towers and walls; 
Hidden from all mortal eyes 
Deep the sunken city lies: 
Even cities have their graves ! 

This is an enchanted land! 
Round the headlands far away 
Sweeps the blue Salernian bay 

[ 99 ] 



AMALFI 

With its sickle of white sand: 
Further still and furthermost 
On the dim discovered coast 
Paestum with its ruins lies, 
And its roses all in bloom 
Seem to tinge the fatal skies 
Of that lonely land of doom. 

On his terrace, high in air, 
Nothing doth the good monk care 
For such worldly themes as these. 
From the garden just below 
Little puffs of perfume blow, 
And a sound is in his ears 
Of the murmur of the bees 
In the shining chestnut-trees; 
Nothing else he heeds or hears. 
All the landscape seems to swoon 
In the happy afternoon; 
Slowly o'er his senses creep 
The encroaching waves of sleep, 
And he sinks as sank the town, 
Unresisting, fathoms down, 
Into caverns cool and deep! 

Walled about with drifts of snow, 
Hearing the fierce north-wind blow, 
Seeing all the landscape white 
And the river cased in ice, 
Comes this memory of delight, 

[ 100 ] 



( CASTLES IN SPAIN 

Comes this vision unto me 

Of a long-lost Paradise 

In the land beyond the sea. 



CASTLES IN SPAIN 

How much of my young heart, O Spain, 
Went out to thee in days of yore ! 

What dreams romantic filled my brain, 

And summoned back to life again 

The Paladins of Charlemagne, 
The Cid Campeador! 

And shapes more shadowy than these, 

In the dim twilight half revealed; 
Phoenician galleys on the seas, 
The Roman camps like hives of bees, 
The Goth uplifting from his knees 
Pelayo on his shield. 

It was these memories perchance, 
From annals of remotest eld, 

That lent the colors of romance 

To every trivial circumstance, 

And changed the form and countenance 
Of all that I beheld. 

Old towns, whose history lies hid 
In monkish chronicle or rhyme, — 
[ 101 ] 



CASTLES IN SPAIN 

Burgos, the birthplace of the Cid, 
Zamora and Valladolid, 
Toledo, built and walled amid 
The wars of Wamba's time; 

The long, straight line of the highway, 
The distant town that seems so near, 
The peasants in the fields, that stay 
Their toil to cross themselves and pray, 
When from the belfry at midday 
The Angelus they hear; 

White crosses in the mountain pass, 

Mules gay with tassels, the loud din 
Of muleteers, the tethered ass 
That crops the dusty wayside grass, 
And cavaliers with spurs of brass 
Alighting at the inn; 

White hamlets hidden in fields of wheat, 

White cities slumbering by the sea, 
White sunshine flooding square and street, 
Dark mountain ranges, at whose feet 
The river beds are dry with heat, — 
All was a dream to me. 

Yet something sombre and severe 

O'er the enchanted landscape reigned; 
A terror in the atmosphere 
As if King Philip listened near, 
[ 102 ] 



CASTLES IN SPAIN 

Or Torquemada, the austere, 
His ghostly sway maintained. 

The softer Andalusian skies 

Dispelled the sadness and the gloom; 

There Cadiz by the seaside lies, 

And Seville's orange-orchards rise, 

Making the land a paradise 
Of beauty and of bloom. 

There Cordova is hidden among 

The palm, the olive, and the vine; 
Gem of the South, by poets sung, 
And in whose mosque Almanzor hung 
As lamps the bells that once had rung 
At Compostella's shrine. 

But over all the rest supreme, 

The star of stars, the cynosure, 
The artist's and the poet's theme, 
The young man's vision, the old man's dream, 
Granada by its winding stream, 

The city of the Moor! 

And there the Alhambra still recalls 

Aladdin's palace of delight: 
Allah il Allah ! through its halls 
Whispers the fountain as it falls, 
The Darro darts beneath its walls, 

The hills with snow are white. 
[ 103 ] 



FROM MY ARM-CHAIR 

Ah yes, the hills are white with snow, 
And cold with blasts that bite and freeze; 

But in the happy vale below 

The orange and pomegranate grow, 

And wafts of air toss to and fro 
The blossoming almond trees. 

The Vega cleft by the Xenil, 

The fascination and allure 
Of the sweet landscape chains the will; 
The traveller lingers on the hill, 
His parted lips are breathing still 

The last sigh of the Moor. 

How like a ruin overgrown 

With flowers that hide the rents of time, 
Stands now the Past that I have known; 
Castles in Spain, not built of stone 
But of white summer clouds, and blown 

Into this little mist of rhyme! 



FROM MY ARM-CHAIR 

TO THE CHILDREN OF CAMBRIDGE 

WHO PRESENTED TO ME, ON MY SEVENTY-SECOND BIRTHDAY, FEB- 
RUARY 27, 1879, THIS CHAIR MADE FROM THE WOOD OF THE VD> 
LAGE BLACKSMITH'S CHESTNCT-TREE 

Am I a king, that I should call my own 
This splendid ebon throne ? 
[ 104 ] 



FROM MY ARM-CHAIR 

Or by what reason, or what right divine, 
Can I proclaim it mine ? 

Only, perhaps, by right divine of song 

It may to me belong; 
Only because the spreading chestnut-tree 

Of old was sung by me. 

Well I remember it in all its prime 

When in the summer-time 
The affluent foliage of its branches made 

A cavern of cool shade. 

There, by the blacksmith's forge, beside the street, 

Its blossoms white and sweet 
Enticed the bees, until it seemed alive, 

And murmured like a hive. 

And when the winds of autumn, with a shout, 

Tossed its great arms about, 
The shining chestnuts, bursting from the sheath, 

Dropped to the ground beneath. 

And now some fragments of its branches bare, 

Shaped as a stately chair, 
Have by my hearthstone found a home at last, 

And whisper of the past. 

The Danish king could not in all his pride 
Repel the ocean tide, 

[ 105 ] 



FROM MY ARM-CHAIR 

But, seated in this chair, I can in rhyme 
Roll back the tide of Time. 



I see again, as one in vision sees, 

The blossoms and the bees, 
And hear the children's voices shout and call, 

And the brown chestnuts fall. 

I see the smithy with its fires aglow, 

I hear the bellows blow, 
And the shrill hammers on the anvil beat 

The iron white with heat! 

And thus, dear children, have ye made for me 

This day a jubilee, 
And to my more than threescore years and ten 

Brought back my youth again. 

The heart hath its own memory, like the mind, 

And in it are enshrined 
The precious keepsakes, into which is wrought 

The giver's loving thought. 

Only your love and your remembrance could 

Give life to this dead wood, 
And make these branches, leafless now so long, 

Blossom again in song. 



[ 106 ] 



POSSIBILITIES-CROSS OF SNOW 

POSSIBILITIES 

Where are the Poets, unto whom belong 

The Olympian heights; whose singing shafts were 

sent 
Straight to the mark, and not from bows half bent, 
But with the utmost tension of the thong ? 

Where are the stately argosies of song, 

Whose rushing keels made music as they went 
Sailing in search of some new continent, 
With all sail set, and steady winds and strong ? 

Perhaps there lives some dreamy boy, untaught 
In schools, some graduate of the field or street 
Who shall become a master of the art, 

An admiral sailing the high seas of thought, 
Fearless and first, and steering with his fleet 
For lands not yet laid down in any chart. 



THE CROSS OF SNOW 

In the long, sleepless watches of the night, 
A gentle face — the face of one long dead — 
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head 
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light. 

Here in this room she died; and soul more white 
Never through martyrdom of fire was led 
To its repose; nor can in books be read 
The legend of a fife more benedight. 
[ 107 ] 



PALINGENESIS 

There is a mountain in the distant West 
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines 
Displays a cross of snow upon its side. 

Such is the cross I wear upon my breast 

These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes 
And seasons, changeless since the day she died. 

PALINGENESIS 

I lay upon the headland-height, and listened 
To the incessant sobbing of the sea 

In caverns under me, 
And watched the waves, that tossed and fled and glis- 
tened, 
Until the rolling meadows of amethyst 

Melted away in mist. 

Then suddenly, as one from sleep, I started; 
For round about me all the sunny capes 

Seemed peopled with the shapes 
Of those whom I had known in days departed, 
Apparelled in the loveliness which gleams 

On faces seen in dreams. 

A moment only, and the light and glory 
Faded away, and the disconsolate shore 

Stood lonely as before; 
And the wild-roses of the promontory 
Around me shuddered in the wind, and shed 

Their petals of pale red. 

[ W8 ] 



PALINGENESIS 

There was an old belief that in the embers 
Of all things their primordial form exists, 

And cunning alchemists 
Could re-create the rose with all its members 
From its own ashes, but without the bloom, 

Without the lost perfume. 

Ah me! what wonder-working, occult science 
Can from the ashes in our hearts once more 

The rose of youth restore ? 
What craft of alchemy can bid defiance 
To time and change, and for a single hour 

Renew this phantom-flower? 

"Oh, give me back," I cried, "the vanished splendors, 
The breath of morn, and the exultant strife, 

When the swift stream of life 
Bounds o'er its rocky channel, and surrenders 
The pond, with all its lilies, for the leap 

Into the unknown deep!" 

And the sea answered, with a lamentation, 
Like some old prophet wailing, and it said, 

" Alas ! thy youth is dead ! 
It breathes no more, its heart has no pulsation; 
In the dark places with the dead of old 

It lies forever cold!" 

Then said I, "From its consecrated cerements 
I will not drag this sacred dust again, 
Only to give me pain; 

[ 109 ] 



PALINGENESIS 

But, still remembering all the lost endearments, 
Go on my way, like one who looks before, 
And turns to weep no more." 

Into what land of harvests, what plantations 
Bright with autumnal foliage and the glow 

Of sunsets burning low; 
Beneath what midnight skies, whose constellations 
Light up the spacious avenues between 

This world and the unseen; 

Amid what friendly greetings and caresses, 
What households, though not alien, yet not mine, 

What bowers of rest divine; 
To what temptations in lone wildernesses, 
What famine of the heart, what pain and loss, 

The bearing of what cross, — 

I do not know; nor will I vainly question 
Those pages of the mystic book which hold 

The story still untold, 
But without rash conjecture or suggestion 
Turn its last leaves in reverence and good heed, 

Until "The End" I read. 



[ 110 ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

POEM FOR THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 
CLASS OF 1825 IN BOWDOIN COLLEGE 

" O Caesar, we who are about to die 
Salute you!" was the gladiators' cry 
In the arena, standing face to face 
With death and with the Roman populace. 

O ye familiar scenes, — ye groves of pine, 
That once were mine and are no longer mine, — 
Thou river, widening through the meadows green 
To the vast sea, so near and yet unseen, — 
Ye halls, in whose seclusion and repose 
Phantoms of fame, like exhalations, rose 
And vanished, — we who are about to die 
Salute you; earth and air and sea and sky, 
And the Imperial Sun that scatters down 
His sovereign splendors upon grove and town. 

Ye do not answer us! ye do not hear! 
We are forgotten; and in your austere 
And calm indifference, ye little care 
Whether we come or go, or whence or where. 
What passing generations fill these halls, 
What passing voices echo from these walls, 
Ye heed not; we are only as the blast, 
A moment heard, and then forever past. 

[ i" ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

Not so the teachers who in earlier days 

Led our bewildered feet through learning's maze; 

They answer us — alas ! what have I said ? 

What greetings come there from the voiceless dead ? 

What salutation, welcome, or reply ? 

What pressure from the hands that lifeless lie ? 

They are no longer here ; they all are gone 

Into the land of shadows, — all save one. 

Honor and reverence, and the good repute 

That follows faithful service as its fruit, 

Be unto him, whom living we salute. 

The great Italian poet, when he made 
His dreadful journey to the realms of shade, 
Met there the old instructor of his youth, 
And cried in tones of pity and of ruth: 
" Oh, never from the memory of my heart 
Your dear, paternal image shall depart, 
Who while on earth, ere yet by death surprised, 
Taught me how mortals are immortalized; 
How grateful am I for that patient care 
All my life long my language shall declare." 

To-day we make the poet's words our own, 

And utter them in plaintive undertone; 

Nor to the living only be they said, 

But to the other living called the dead, 

Whose dear, paternal images appear 

Not wrapped in gloom, but robed in sunshine here; 

[ H2 ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

Whose simple lives, complete and without flaw, 

Were part and parcel of great Nature's law; 

Who said not to their Lord, as if afraid, 
"Here is thy talent in a napkin laid," 

But labored in their sphere, as men who live 

In the delight that work alone can give. 

Peace be to them ! eternal peace and rest, 

And the fulfilment of the great behest: 
"Ye have been faithful over a few things, 

Over ten cities shall ye reign as kings." 

And ye who fill the places we once filled, 
And follow in the furrows that we tilled, 
Young men, whose generous hearts are beating high, 
We who are old, and are about to die, 
Salute you; hail you; take your hands in ours, 
And crown you with our welcome as with flowers ! 
How beautiful is youth ! how bright it gleams 
With its illusions, aspirations, dreams! 
Book of Beginnings, Story without End, 
Each maid a heroine, and each man a friend ! 
Aladdin's Lamp, and Fortunatus' Purse 
That holds the treasures of the universe ! 
All possibilities are in its hands, 
No danger daunts it, and no foe withstands; 
In its sublime audacity of faith, 
"Be thou removed!" it to the mountain saith, 
And with ambitious feet, secure and proud, 
Ascends the ladder leaning on the cloud ! 

[ US ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

As ancient Priam at the Scaean gate 

Sat on the walls of Troy in regal state 

With the old men, too old and weak to fight, 

Chirping like grasshoppers in their delight 

To see the embattled hosts, with spear and shield, 

Of Trojans and Achaians in the field; 

So from the snowy summits of our years 

We see you in the plain, as each appears, 

And question of you ; asking, " Who is he 

That towers above the others ? Which may be 

Atreides, Menelaus, Odysseus, 

Ajax the great, or bold Idomeneus ? " 

Let him not boast who puts his armor on 
As he who puts it off, the battle done. 
Study yourselves; and most of all note well 
Wherein kind Nature meant you to excel. 
Not every blossom ripens into fruit; 
Minerva, the inventress of the flute, 
Flung it aside, when she her face surveyed 
Distorted in a fountain as she played; 
The unlucky Marsyas found it, and his fate 
Was one to make the bravest hesitate. 

Write on your doors the saying wise and old, 
Be bold! be bold!" and everywhere, "Be bold; 
Be not too bold!" Yet better the excess 
Than the defect; better the more than less; 
Better like Hector in the field to die, 
Than like a perfumed Paris turn and fly. 
[ 114 ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

And now, my classmates; ye remaining few 
That number not the half of those we knew, 
Ye, against whose familiar names not yet 
The fatal asterisk of death is set, 
Ye I salute ! The horologe of Time 
Strikes the half-century with a solemn chime, 
And summons us together once again, 
The joy of meeting not unmixed with pain. 

Where are the others ? Voices from the deep 

Caverns of darkness answer me: "They sleep!" 

I name no names; instinctively I feel 

Each at some well-remembered grave will kneel, 

And from the inscription wipe the weeds and moss, 

For every heart best knoweth its own loss. 

I see their scattered gravestones gleaming white 

Through the pale dusk of the impending night; 

O'er all alike the impartial sunset throws 

Its golden lilies mingled with the rose; 

We give to each a tender thought, and pass 

Out of the graveyards with their tangled grass, 

Unto these scenes frequented by our feet 

When we were young, and life was fresh and sweet. 

What shall I say to you ? What can I say 
Better than silence is ? When I survey 
This throng of faces turned to meet my own, 
Friendly and fair, and yet to me unknown, 
Transformed the very landscape seems to be; 
It is the same, yet not the same to me. 
[ US ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

So many memories crowd upon my brain, 
So many ghosts are in the wooded plain, 
I fain would steal away, with noiseless tread, 
As from a house where some one lieth dead. 
I cannot go ; — I pause ; — I hesitate ; 
My feet reluctant linger at the gate; 
As one who struggles in a troubled dream 
To speak and cannot, to myself I seem. 

Vanish the dream ! Vanish the idle fears ! 

Vanish the rolling mists of fifty years ! 

Whatever time or space may intervene, 

I will not be a stranger in this scene. 

Here every doubt, all indecision, ends; 

Hail, my companions, comrades, classmates, friends ! 

Ah me ! the fifty years since last we met 
Seem to me fifty folios bound and set 
By Time, the great transcriber, on his shelves, 
Wherein are written the histories of ourselves. 
What tragedies, what comedies, are there; 
What joy and grief, what rapture and despair! 
What chronicles of triumph and defeat, 
Of struggle, and temptation, and retreat! 
What records of regrets, and doubts, and fears! 
What pages blotted, blistered by our tears ! 
What lovely landscapes on the margin shine, 
What sweet, angelic faces, what divine 
And holy images of love and trust, 
Undimmed by age, unsoiled by damp or dust! 
[ 116 ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

Whose hand shall dare to open and explore 
These volumes, closed and clasped forevermore? 
Not mine. With reverential feet I pass; 
I hear a voice that cries, " Alas ! alas ! 
Whatever hath been written shall remain, 
Nor be erased nor written o'er again; 
The unwritten only still belongs to thee: 
Take heed, and ponder well what that shall be." 

As children frightened by a thunder-cloud 

Are reassured if some one reads aloud 

A tale of wonder, with enchantment fraught, 

Or wild adventure, that diverts their thought, 

Let me endeavor with a tale to chase 

The gathering shadows of the time and place, 

And banish what we all too deeply feel 

Wholly to say, or wholly to conceal. 

In mediaeval Rome, I know not where, 
There stood an image with its arm in air, 
And on its lifted finger, shining clear, 
A golden ring with the device, "Strike here!" 
Greatly the people wondered, though none guessed 
Tfce meaning that these words but half expressed, 
Until a learned clerk, who at noonday 
With downcast eye was passing on his way, 
Paused, and observed the spot, and marked it well, 
Whereon the shadow of the finger fell; 
And, coming back at midnight, delved, and found 
A secret stairway leading under ground. 
[ 117 ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

Down this he passed into a spacious hall, 

Lit by a flaming jewel on the wall; 

And opposite, in threatening attitude, 

With bow and shaft a brazen statue stood. 

Upon its forehead, like a coronet, 

Were these mysterious words. of menace set: 

That which I am, I am; my fatal aim 

None can escape, not even yon luminous flame!" 

Midway the hall was a fair table placed, 

With cloth of gold, and golden cups enchased 

With rubies, and the plates and knives were gold, 

And gold the bread and viands manifold. 

Around it, silent, motionless, and sad, 

Were seated gallant knights in armor clad, 

And ladies beautiful with plume and zone, 

But they were stone, their hearts within were stone; 

And the vast hall was filled in every part 

With silent crowds, stony in face and heart. 

Long at the scene, bewildered and amazed, 
The trembling clerk in speechless wonder gazed; 
Then from the table, by his greed made bold, 
He seized a goblet and a knife of gold, 
And suddenly from their seats the guests upsprang, 
The vaulted ceiling with loud clamors rang, 
The archer sped his arrow, at their call, 
Shattering the lambent jewel on the wall, 
And all was dark around and overhead; — 
Stark on the floor the luckless clerk lay dead! 
[ 118 ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

The writer of this legend then records 
Its ghostly application in these words: 
The image is the Adversary old, 
Whose beckoning ringer points to realms of gold ; 
Our lusts and passions are the downward stair 
That leads the soul from a diviner air; 
The archer, Death; the flaming jewel, Life; 
Terrestrial goods, the goblet and the knife; 
The knights and ladies, all whose flesh and bone 
By avarice have been hardened into stone ; 
The clerk, the scholar whom the love of pelf 
Tempts from his books and from his nobler self. 

The scholar and the world ! The endless strife, 

The discord in the harmonies of life! 

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, 

And all the sweet serenity of books ! 

The market-place, the eager love of gain, 

Whose aim is vanity, and whose end is pain ! 

But why, you ask me, should this tale be told 
To men grown old, or who are growing old ? 
It is too late ! Ah, nothing is too late 
Till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate. 
Cato learned Greek at eighty; Sophocles 
Wrote his grand (Edipus, and Simonides 
Bore off the prize of verse from his compeers, 
When each had numbered more than fourscore years, 
And Theophrastus at fourscore and ten, 
Had but begun his Characters of Men. 
[ HO ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

Chaucer, at Woodstock with the nightingales, 
At sixty wrote the Canterbury Tales; 
Goethe at Weimar, toiling to the last, 
Completed Faust when eighty years were past. 
These are indeed exceptions; but they show 
How far the gulf-stream of our youth may flow 
Into the arctic regions of our lives, 
Where little else than life itself survives. 

As the barometer foretells the storm 

While still the skies are clear, the weather warm, 

So something in us, as old age draws near, 

Betrays the pressure of the atmosphere. 

The nimble mercury, ere we are aware, 

Descends the elastic ladder of the air; 

The telltale blood in artery and vein 

Sinks from its higher levels in the brain; 

Whatever poet, orator, or sage 

May say of it, old age is still old age. 

It is the waning, not the crescent moon; 

The dusk of evening, not the blaze of noon; 

It is not strength, but weakness; not desire, 

But its surcease; not the fierce heat of fire, 

The burning and consuming element, 

But that of ashes and of embers spent, 

In which some living sparks we still discern, 

Enough to warm, but not enough to burn. 

What then ? Shall we sit idly down and say 
The night hath come ; it is no longer day ? 
[ 120 ] 



MORITURI SALUTAMUS 

The night hath not yet come; we are not quite 
Cut off from labor by the failing light; 
Something remains for us to do or dare; 
Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear; 
Not (Edipus Coloneus, or Greek Ode, 
Or tales of pilgrims that one morning rode 
Out of the gateway of the Tabard Inn, 
But other something, would we but begin ; 
For age is opportunity, no less 
Than youth itself, though in another dress, 
And as the evening twilight fades away 
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day. 



FOUR HUNDRED COPIES PRINTED AT 
THE RIVERSIDE PRESS CAMBRIDGE 
MASSACHUSETTS IN DECEMBER 1906